Watch Maltese Football
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Football - the beautiful game! It’s been around for a very long time. The world’s oldest league club is England’s Notts County – founded in 1862. And while you might be surprised to know that the game’s formal origins stretch back that far, you could be equally shocked to learn the Maltese game was not far behind.
Though no-one is entirely sure precisely when it did start, it is widely accepted and recorded that the thousands of British sailors and soldiers stationed on the island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought their nation’s favourite game with them.
You can still see this clear British connection in the names of some of the oldest Maltese clubs - St George's, St Patrick's, Hibernians and Sliema Wanderers. The general jargon, terminology and banter on the terraces during matches is also direct from the UK. Shouts of phrases like ‘corner’, ‘foul’, ‘off-side’, ‘come on Blues’, ‘play-to-the-whistle’ and ‘you must be blind referee’ all testify to this historical attachment.
Over the water in Sicily and Tunisia, other clubs were established by British servicemen and they poached the best Maltese footballers for their earliest squads until they started to produce their own talents.
It’s now slightly ironic that footballing life has turned full circle and most of the clubs the Maltese helped to establish are now top European contenders, while Maltese football has been bypassed and remains relatively small-time. Here they concentrate on local competitions but every now and again they still produce the odd star. A gem, who gets snapped up by the bigger clubs of Europe.
The most recent was Michael Mifsud who departed the island to enjoy a successful professional career. A product of the youth set-up at Sliema Wanderers, he was signed for Kaiserslautern in Germany and Lillestrom before moving to the English Football League with Coventry and then returning to play for Valletta in the Maltese league.
The national league and cup competitions take place at the National Stadium in Ta' Qali – on what was fittingly once a British Royal Air Force airfield. Derby matches and clashes between title contenders attract fairly big crowds.
Football Malta-style can also provide some interesting entertainment to the visitor. There’s a unique atmosphere with crowd activity often including two rival bands playing team anthems amid a sea of contrasting colours.
Getting to the games is easy by car or by using the public bus service. The modern stadium has everything you’d expect to find and more, including: an Olympic-sized indoor pool, state-of-the-art gymnasium and the administrative offices of the Malta Football Association – which is one of the oldest in the world.
If you’re worried about crowd trouble then don’t. Matches in Malta are entirely safe. No violence is tolerated and instances of any trouble are exceptionally rare to non-existent. The games in Malta are held at several venues, though most clubs don’t have their own grounds because growing grass where there’s no rain is a major problem. All Premier League matches, for example, are staged at the national stadium in Ta’ Qali, at the Victor Tedesco Stadium or at Hibernians’ ground.
Malta’s season starts in mid-August and continues to early March. You can find out more about the fixtures and football in Malta by checking out the Malta Football Association website on the link below.
Address: Millennium Stand, 2nd Floor, National Stadium, Ta' Qali ATD 4000
Phone: +356 2338 6000
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