The Malta Football Association (MFA) is investing in youth as it targets a brighter future, with a new academy set up for the island's most promising young footballers.
Coach Sergio Soldano is the man entrusted with heading up the academy project, which is focused on developing Maltese talents aged between 12 and 17. Forty boys are currently registered with the academy based at the MFA Technical Centre in Ta' Qali.
A former player in his native Argentina, Soldano's CV includes coaching posts in his homeland, China, Iran, Australia, Colombia and Italy. He has experience at youth level after being involved with the grassroots schools of Serie A clubs Parma FC and FC Internazionale Milano, for whom he still works as a scout.
"Inter have asked me to keep an eye on promising young Maltese footballers coming through and I have already spotted two or three who look interesting," Soldano told UEFA.com.
On the subject of his MFA assignment, he is optimistic. "I am very happy and excited with this new project given to me by the Maltese FA. I am convinced that the local association is moving in the right direction by investing in the youth sector.
"The most important objective is that they must work hard and be as organised as possible. There are youngsters with great talent here in Malta but we need to get these aspiring future footballers to train in the right way. This is the way forward for Maltese football."
Soldano, who was handed a permanent contract in February after initially being employed on a part-time basis in November 2011, is meeting regularly with MFA technical director Robert Gatt and coaches at the Technical Centre in order to raise the potential and quality of Malta's national teams in the future.
MFA CEO Bjorn Vassallo said: "We are embarking on a three-year project. The current crop go to Ta' Qali to do their homework, eat together and have lessons in key subjects like nutrition and sports physiology. The main goal is to educate these youngsters in all aspects of the game."
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