Malta Football Association
Players feeling benefits of Elite Player Development Project
Nov 18, 2021
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Credit: Mark Zammit Cordina
Credit: Mark Zammit Cordina

  • Credit: Mark Zammit Cordina

The Elite Player Development Project, launched earlier this year by the Technical Centre, is progressing well with 25 outfield players and eight goalkeepers attending regular sessions at the Malta FA Football Complex in Ta’ Qali. The project encompasses different aspects of player development, namely strength and conditioning, nutrition, mental preparation and a specific traning programme for high-level goalkeepers.

The selected players have either been in the national team set-up during the ongoing 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign or form part of the Under-21 squad. The commencement of the programme followed discussions between Devis Mangia, the Head Coach of the National Teams, and the club coaches with the schedule planned acccording to the training regime of the clubs who are working in synergy with the Malta FA to support the growth of up-and-coming players and Maltese football in general.


Luca Pagani, the national team’s fitness coach who co-ordinates the strength and conditioning sessions, explained the concept behind this project. “The strength and conditioning is one of the programmes organised by the Technical Centre as part of a much wider project – the Elite Player Development,” Pagani said. “This project includes many other inter-related programmes, tackling different areas of performance such as the nutritional part and the mental preparation of the player for a high-competitive environment.


“The selected pool comprises young, promising players who attend two weekly sessions as part of a resistance programme with the main target being to improve specific physical components which are very important, especially at international level. Essentially, our two main aims are to help these young footballers improve their physical strength, making them more resilient to injuries so that they can show all their qualities in a very high performance environment.”




Marcus Grima, the Balzan FC midfielder who is part of the Malta Under-21 squad, and Malta and Valletta defender Jean Borg recognise the benefits of the Elite Player Development Project.


“Since we started this programme, I have improved a lot physically, feeling much stronger on the football pitch,” Grima, 21, said. “On a collective level, as a team, every player is feeling the benefits of this programme because traditionally, we tend to struggle a bit from a physical perspective when playing against top, professional football teams. Therefore, if we manage to improve our physical strength, it would help us a lot as we will be better prepared to face these teams at international level.”


Borg shares Grima’s views. “This is a very interesting project,” the 23-year-old defender said. “The coaches have selected young players who are part of the senior national team’s set-up as well as others who are with the U-21 squad. We work a lot on strength, both upper body and lower body, and a positive aspect of this programme is that the coaches give a lot of weight to the club commitments on a weekly basis when planning the strength sessions.


“I believe this project has a lot of benefits, especially when coming up against strong teams like Russia and Croatia.”

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