Malta Table Football Sports Association hits back

Monday, February 7, 2011, 16:52

The Malta Table Football Association (MTFSA) experienced a remarkable start to year 2011, winning three main awards in the SportsMalta Awards, thanks to the dedication and intensive work of the committee of the association and its members.

The succes of the National Team of table football composed of Mark Gauci, Massimo Cremona, Charlie Aquilina, Samuel Bartolo, Derek Conti and Joseph Borg Bonaci in the teams category in becoming World Champions in the FISTF World Cup in September 2010 is an outstanding achievement. This Maltese team, which has won the World Cup after a dominating run by Italy for nine consecutive year, is now inspired and more determined to defend the World Cup title in Palermo this July.

The MTFSA is also celebrating the success of Silvio Catania in winning the Official of the Year title in the Malta Sport Awards. Silvio had contested and won the MTFSA 2009 election and for the very time in the history of Maltese table football was wholly dedicated to the administration of the sport. He was successfully nominated as FISTF President in January 2010 election which he won by a majority of over 60%. Silvio contirbuted to attract new members to the sport and to promote the sport.

Last but not least, the success of Massimo Cremona in earning a second place in the Sports Man category and winning the SportMalta Award made this night one to remember for our sport and for our association. Massimo Cremona was during most of 2010 ranked 5th in the world and also won individual titles in two Grand Prix, International Opens and reached the semifinals in the Open Individual Category at the FISTF World Cup 2010.

The MTFSA would like to thank all those who voted in favour of the nominated individuals/team on the night. The association is satisfied with the fact that the voting by journalists for the MaltaSport Award, which had a 40% weighting, Massimo Cremona ended up in third place with only 0.14% less than Danica Bonello Spiteri of Triathlon and 0.45% less than Andre Schembri of football. On the other hand, another 40% weighthing from the Presidents of the Sport Association at the hall during the show, Massimo Cremona obtained second preference just 1% less than Mario Bonello of Athletics. In the televoting category, he ended up first and obtained almost 0.2% more than second placed in televoting, Danica Bonello Spiteri.

The above clearly shows that association representatives in Malta and the Maltese public thought that table football, in this case, particularly Massimo Cremona deserved all the credit and such award.

This association apart from congratulating its members, after a number of hard working years feels satisfied that sports authorities in Malta has recognised these efforts and successes not only on this occasion but also on another recent acitivity held in December 2010 by the Malta Olympic Committee.

Today, the MTFSA holds a championship spread on three division for individual competitions and other categories. The number of clubs in the past months increased by a significant figure of 100%. In the last 24 months, the Maltese representatives won nothing less than 6 Grand prix and 8 international Opens in Europe.

Malta also had the opportunity to highlight its name, in the newly organised Champions and Europa League of table football in 2010, thanks to the success of the Maltese individuals Massimo Cremona with Reggiana and Mark Gauci and Derek Conti with Atlas TFC.

In the last two editions of the FISTF World Cup, Malta won four bronze medals thanks to Melaine Fenech (Women’s Category 2009), Under 19 Team (2009), Mark Gauci and Massimo Cremona in the Open Category of 2009 and 2010 respectively. The climax was reached last September through the National Team success in the Teams Category whereby Malta was crowned as World Champion.

On the administrative side, the MTFSA has always performed well in organising top level international events. Back to the year 1992, the European Table Football Federation (ETF) declared the Malta Europa Cup held at the former Eden Palladium as the best ever organised in the then last 30 years. In 2003 the MTFSA organised the FISTF World Cup, at the newly built Cottonera Sports Complex, a tournament winning the annual award relating to the tournament of the year. In November 2010, the FISTF World Grand Masters were organised in Gozo’s Kempinski San Lawrenz Hotel, marking the first ever table football international competition organised in this island; a competition described as the best organised Masters.

The year 1994 was a very important year for table football – the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC) and the Kunsill Malti ghall-Isports (KMS) recognised table football and welcomed the MTFSA as a full member of both sport authorities.

In various awards given by the MOC table football was recognised for its international achievements. Among these one should mention the award to the National Team after reaching the World Cup final in 2007. Joseph Borg Bonaci was awarded with a similar award in 2008 for winning the Major in Bologna, Italy. Melaine Fenech, Massimo Cremona and Mark Gauci were awarded for the individuals achievements in the World Cup 2009. Similarly, Mark Gauci and Massimo Cremona were honoured with a Silver and Gold medal respectively during the MOC Awards Night of 2010 for their international achievements.

All the above is a result of sacrifices by our members. The definition of ‘Sport’ could be debateble and can vary among people with different passions, emotions and thoughts.

MTFSA respects the opinion of anyone, but feels discriminated that armchair critics suggest that table football should not be considered as a sport. The definition of sports according to the European Union Sports Law is:

1. Sports is a physical ability and physical challenge

2. Sports must have a set of rules and organised competitions

3. Sports must have rules that allow that one can apply strategies and tactical efforts in order to reach success

4. Sport, ideally must be widespread, thus not eliminating any other form of culture based sports.

Table football meets the above criteria.

In our opinion these critics, suggesting that table football should not even appear in the sports pages, are being discriminatory.

Table football athletes are exposed to a number of sacrificies. This sports requires concentration and speed varying according to the circumstances during the match itself. These athletes need to prepare themselves physicially to perform well during the long hours of the table football competitions.

We are convinced that these critics arguing that table football those not involve any phyisical activity are not well informed about our sports and they simply lack information about this sports resulting in unfounded conclusions.

Today, table football equipment varies much more than the simple boxes at toy shops in the past. Every player has his/her own personalised equipment. A match, which runs 30 minutes, is demading in different forms of abilities – mental, technical, tactical and yes also physical.

As mentioned above, table football has been recognised by the Maltese Sport Authorities for the last 7 years. Year 2010 was the most successful for Maltese Table Football. The question seems obvious- Why all this fuss now?

We are afraid that MTFSA is being used for any hidden agenda by some critics for their personal issues with Sport Authorities.

We look forward to the growth of our SPORT. We shall be working hand in hand with FISTF to reach this aim. Our vision is that eventually table football will also be recognised by the International Olympic Committee.

Today we fully understand why the recognition process took us a number of years. The mentality of some persons negatively influenced on our sport and similar ones. We know that as any other society, sports evolved along the years.

An interesting outcome from our critics is the appeal to remove our recognition because of the high rate of obesity in Malta. This, we frankly deem as absurd. We encourage our members to participate in physical activity which ehance their endurance during table football competitions.

Our appeal is towards every kid to involve himself/herself in a sport activity, but we will never impose what they should opt for. We appreciate the efforts of Kunsill Malti ghall-Isports towards this issue and we also recognise the step ahead in the last years by the introduction of various sports acitivities and financial assistance to sport organisations to implement their programmes.

If we want that the future of our kids will be towards a sport society, we can’t accept the conception of discrimination and ntollerance against any sports. Kids are to have the opportunity to experience a variety of sports and then decide for themselves which best fits their passions.

We must conclude that the MTFSA takes this opportunity to thank its members and push them to continue with their training for more successful results. We are sure, that in the coming months more successes will be reached as the horizon is offering to us prosperous targets. We would like to thank the Sport Authorities such as the Maltese Olympic Committee and the Kunsill Malti ghall-Isports, for their help and thanks to them we had the opportunity to make a difference in our ways of achieving results – by being more professional.

We like to thank also the Secretariat for Youths and Sports for their continous support in the recent past and we promise that we will be working to proof more and more that table football can engrave Malta’s name on the limelight of international events.





1 Comment

  1. Ta L Irish says:

    Well done to all those involved.

    [Reply]

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