Maltese football supremo Horst Heese gives the lowdown on the UEFA Regions' Cup.
By Domenic Aquilina
German-born Horst Heese, the chief technical director of the Malta Football Association (MFA), has a challenging and delicate job. He coordinates his work with Maltese football at all levels from a well-organised office in the MFA Technical Centre at the National Stadium in Ta' Qali.
One of Heese's challenges is leading the Malta Amateur side that recently participated in the 2002/03 UEFA Regions' Cup qualifying round. The side lost all three games of their Group 7 mini-tournament games in the Netherlands, but Heese was upbeat in his assessment of his side's performances and the value of the tournament.
"Our Maltese side put up their best in all three games," he told uefa.com. "But of course playing against such high standard of opposition, it was very difficult to achieve positive results due to our limited resources. Yet one of the best players to emerge out of the tournament was none other than the Malta goalkeeper Chris Calleja.
UEFA should be proud
"Our team spirit was really high during the whole tournament and my players felt so important during the tournament," Heese added. "This is why I want to stress the importance of such a tournament at amateur level organised by UEFA." Heese was head coach of the Maltese national team from February 1988 until May 1991 and is a firm believer in the value of the Europe-wide Regions' Cup tournament.
"I think that UEFA can be proud of organising such a competition at amateur level not just for Malta but for other countries at this level," he said. "First of all it gives football players the opportunity to play for their country at this level – thus making them feel very important. The motivation shown by all the participants and players during the tournament was really impressive.
"As always the organisation was very good as well. It was truly like any other competition for professionals – it gave a lot of motivation for our players who will never make it to the Premier Division or to the national team. This type of tournament motivates players to continue playing football even if they cannot succeed at a higher level - it's fantastic."