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Watch: Malta Football Players Association launches new strategy paper

The MFPA launched a new strategy paper. Photo: Domenic Borg

The Malta Football Players Association (MFPA) launched its new strategy for the period of 2023 to 2026 yesterday.

Days after revising its Memorandum Of Understanding with the Malta Football Association (MFA) regarding women’s football, the MFPA has now compiled its third strategy paper based on five pillars to continue safeguarding the rights and health of local and foreign players based in Malta.

For the next three years, the association’s focus will revolve around players’ education, comprehensive health, and services, women’s football, and strengthening the association itself.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, MFPA president Anthony Galea said the aim of this strategy is to build upon previous work.

“It’s been a successful ten years and the target now is to consolidate – we have a board and a council composed of different categories from different divisions including the female league and we want to continue building on that,” Galea said.

“We want to remain close to the players, close to the members using social media and the website and apps, and using all the opportunities we have to keep us close to the players.

MFPA president Anthongy Galea. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

“We’re adding pillars related to women because we feel we need to focus more there not because the male categories are no longer important -there are still a lot of challenges, but because there are different realities in these league that we need to keep on addressing.

“Finally, we want that governance to remain strong and transparent with solid financials because this is the way we can keep helping our members and ultimately Maltese football.”

MFPA Secretary General Carlo Mamo identified player education as crucial to their lives and careers.

In turn, the association has collaborated already with entities like the University of Malta, MCAST and others to provide learning opportunities to these athletes who might be looking to extend their education both in short-term such as learning English to better communicate with teammates, to long-term dual career pathways.

By the end of the new strategy, the MFPA has set a target of at least 15% of its members having made use of the educational opportunities offered by the association.

Deputy secretary Mark Barbara emphasised that health programmes offered through the MFPA, both in terms of physical and mental health, would push a safe route for member players throughout their careers. As a result, the association has lobbied for first aiders, defibrillators as well as holding discussions on issues like extreme heat training, rest between matches and player workloads amongst other things.

Once more, the MFPA has stressed that by 2026, they are aiming towards at least 50% of Maltese clubs having hosted a health and well-being session.

In addition, they are aiming to have all former national team players who have played at least 20 matches, taking part in after-career consultations.

Abuse coming from clubs towards unknown players has been around for many years. But the MFPA has put in place services for these players to help assure fair practice.

With football also present in the digital age, the association announced its movement to a more digital approach with an app which allows players to perform tasks like analysing their contracts, report match-fixing anonymously, checking for banned substances etc.

A crucial part of the MFPA is the players’ council comprising representatives of each division of local football. Malta international women’s player Dorianne Theuma discussed the experience of meeting up with fellow representatives at FIFPro, the international association in this regard.

“We had the opportunity to visit FIFPro abroad and we discovered a whole new reality, whereas we are fighting for things that others deem basic things,” Theuma said.

“This gives us courage because this means there is a way forward in terms of fighting for our rights and so this was a good lesson for us.

“We now know that even though Malta is a small country, we are making the next step and there are tools to work with. The target now is to use these methods to transmit our ideas in order to continue moving forward.”

Asked about the fact that women’s football is gaining deserved importance within the MFPA and overseas, Theuma said this has brought about beneficial change.

“I’ve been around women’s football for a long time and if I were to compare, I’d say there’s a lot of difference,” Theuma explained.

Malta women international Dorianne Theuma. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

“With the help of MFPA, we’ve managed to get past many obstacles especially within the National Team and at the end of the day, we’re finding a lot of co-operation from the MFA as well.

“The next step is to bring awareness to the players about the MFPA and what it’s doing in this sector so that we can continue to work on what’s been done so far.”

The final aspect of the new strategy is the association itself and the MFPA is set to – as described in the strategy paper itself – “take a thorough look at how all MFPA’s processes can be improved by digitalisation”.

Digital and social media audits and digital registration are all part of this and Mamo said that by 2024, the association aims to have at least 80% of professional players based in Malta registered as members.

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