Malta Football Association
Malta Football Association commemorates 120th anniversary
May 28, 2020
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The Malta Football Association is 120 years old. 1900 is officially recognised as the birth year of the Malta FA with Major William Henry Russel Prewer becoming the first president of the Association in 1909.

The 120th anniversary of the Malta FA is an occasion to cherish and revive those moments, those epic matches and landmark events, throughout this long and emotional journey of a footballing nation.


In the 120th year of its existence, the Malta FA and football as a whole are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic with competitions across Europe and beyond at a standstill as the world fights this disease.


Although the restrictions posed by the coronavirus compelled the Malta FA to scale down the programme of events, it is the Association's intention to commemorate this 120th anniversary in a fitting manner.


By way of kicking off these celebrations, the Malta FA has unveiled the 120th anniversary logo during a special online event, held on April 29, that has been broadcast on the Association’s Facebook page and Youtube Channel.


Local football stalwarts who have etched their names in the history of Maltese football enlivened the discussion in the first part of the programme which was hosted by Pamela Schembri.


Joe Cini, who was part of the Malta team that faced Austria in the country’s first official international match, played on 24 February, 1957 at the Empire Stadium, reminisced over that historic occasion which saw the national team, under the guidance of the late Joe Griffiths, produce a bold rally with Tony Cauchi and Sammy Nicholl scoring late goals in a 3-2 defeat.


Cini, who had a brilliant career both at club and national team level, paid tribute to his talented team-mates in that 1957 match, the likes of Salvinu Schembri, Lolly Borg, Tony Cauchi, who passed away last month, and Sammy Nicholl.


Another Maltese football legend Raymond Vella spoke about his memories of another famous match, the 3-2 home defeat to West Germany in 1984, saying that the enthusiasm of the capacity crowd at the National Stadium was a great source of inspiration for the Maltese side who produced a terrific performance on the day. Vella also talked about the peak of his club career with Ħamrun Spartans.


Gilbert Agius, another former Malta captain who has made 119 appearances and scored eight goals, said he treasures all the successful moments of his career, especially the time between 2006 and 2008 when Malta obtained five points in the EURO 2008 qualifiers under Dusan Fitzel, and all the trophies won with his club Valletta.


Birkirkara FC forward Michael Mifsud, the country’s most representative player with a total of 142 appearances and a record tally of 41 goals for the national team, singled out the goal he scored in the away 2014 World Cup qualifier against Armenia on June 7, 2013. “That was perhaps my most memorable goal as it earned our national team a rare away victory,” Mifsud said.



Swieqi United midfielder Dorianne Theuma, who recently became the first female player to reach 100 appearances for the national side, spoke about the significant progress made by the Maltese team and women’s football in general since making her international bow in a match against Romania in 2003.


Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo took part in the second part of the discussion together with veteran football journalist Henry Brincat, of The Malta Independent, and his younger counterpart Gianluca Lia, who works for Times Of Malta.


In his introduction, the Malta FA President spoke about the early years of the Malta FA and how the fact that Malta was a British colony meant that football was introduced quite early in our country with the Malta FA being one of the oldest football associations in the world. Vassallo highlighted some of the most significant events in the Association’s history which include the landmark occasions when the Malta FA became a member of FIFA in 1959 and UEFA a year later.


Henry Brincat, who has been involved in sports journalism since the mid-sixties, touched on some of the most memorable matches he has reported, mentioning the 1971 home European Championship qualifier against England (0-1) and the massive crowd that filled every corner of the stadium and other locations that had a view of the Empire Stadium.


Gianluca Lia focused on the development of women’s football in Malta, noting the progress made by the women’s national team which is testament to the commitment and work of all those involved in this sector. The Times Of Malta journalist said that, despite being a small country, Malta is doing a lot to boost women’s football, especially at grassroots level.



In the third and final part of the discussion, former Malta FA President and Vice-President Dr George Abela provided an insight into the key events during the eighties, including the switch from the gravel surface of the Empire Stadium to the natural turf of the National Stadium, the introduction of the professional scheme for national team players and the emergence of clubs like Ħamrun Spartans, Rabata Ajax and Żurrieq FC.



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