Founded in 1900, the Malta Football Association (MFA) is one of the oldest of the 211 such bodies worldwide. The game was introduced to the Maltese islands by British servicemen stationed there, with the first match taking place in 1882. By 1910, a first league championship had been organised.
The introduction of the Maltese Trophy competition arrived in the 1930s. The English Football Association (FA) donated the trophy in gratitude for the Maltese support that England received during their first-ever encounter with Italy in Rome in 1933. This trophy is now preserved and has been replaced by a new edition as from 2017, also donated by the FA.
Malta’s first senior national team match took place in February 1957, a 3-2 home loss to Austria. The MFA became a member of FIFA in 1959 and joined UEFA in 1960.
Malta's first competitive international was a UEFA European Championship tie against Denmark in 1962. Their FIFA World Cup debut came in a qualifying group for the 1974 edition, alongside Hungary, Austria and Sweden. However, it is a 2-0 home win against Greece in a qualifying match for the 1976 UEFA European Championship, and a 1-0 victory in Estonia in a 1994 World Cup qualifier, that stand out as the national team's greatest moments.
In 1981, the new National Stadium at Ta’Qali was inaugurated.
The election of Dr Joseph Mifsud, then president of the MFA, to the UEFA Executive Committee in 1994 and to the FIFA Executive Committee in 1998, were significant milestones in the history of the association. Early in 2008, Dr Mifsud was also appointed as a UEFA vice-president.
Backed by a professional structure, the MFA has been entrusted by UEFA with the hosting of various conferences and seminars over the years, including the 20th Ordinary UEFA Congress in 1990. Then, in March 2012, UEFA awarded the MFA the staging of the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals, an event that ran successfully in May 2014. In addition, Malta has staged UEFA Executive Committee meetings and seminars for European top coaches and referees.
UEFA's HatTrick assistance programme has been fundamental in aiding the upgrading of football facilities in the country. Since being installed as MFA president in August 2010, Norman Darmanin Demajo has inaugurated new facilities at member clubs, with further projects in the final stages of completion, and others in the pipeline, such as the latest renovation of the Ta'Qali National Stadium. The association organises courses and refresher courses for coaches and administrators on a regular basis. The MFA technical centre also runs a national football academy, where young players are selected from the various football nurseries across the island who attend training on a regular basis at Ta’Qali.
Administratively, the MFA has made major strides forward to keep up with the modern needs of the game. The local association has endeavoured to stay with the times, and will undoubtedly maintain this good work for the benefit of Malta’s footballers and its football community.
"The MFA has identified that football in our small nation can only progress if direct assistance is afforded at club level in two major areas – continued professional education and assistance for the improvement of facilities," said Mr Darmanin Demajo. "The MFA will continue to work in this direction, encouraged and assisted by the UEFA HatTrick scheme which is an important part of the equation for realising our goals.
"The strength of present and future HatTrick programmes takes on a new dimension when using that financial assistance as collateral for raising additional funds that are needed today, for benefits that will be enjoyed by our clubs for many years. In a fast and changing world, staying the same means falling behind, so we need to keep up to date with developments and practices. We will also be giving continued professional education and good governance top priority."
Date of birth: 12 April 1952
Association president since: 2010
• Active in football since 1968, Norman Darmanin Demajo won three titles and three Maltese Cups during a nine-year spell at Valletta FC from 1973-82, winning three league titles and three FA Trophies. An amateur international, he represented the senior team from 1975-76; he hung up his boots in 1990 at the age of 38 following a spell with St Andrew's FC.
• A council member of the Malta Football Association (MFA) from 1988, he was brought on to the body's executive committee before serving as treasurer from 1992-2001.
• Elected president of the MFA in August 2010, and re-elected for a new three-year term in July 2013, he is committed to investing in football infrastructure, and strengthening the island's technical sector and grassroots football. A believer in ongoing education at all levels, he said: "In today's business world, staying still means falling behind. This concept is equally applicable to football management, especially in sports science where, in a fast-changing world, we have to seek to stay abreast with current developments and practice in order to ensure that our teams participate with honour in competitive matches at all levels."
Date of birth: 20 January 1980
Association general secretary since: 2014
• Bjorn Vassallo was nominated and chosen as general secretary at the Malta Football Association (MFA) annual general meeting in July 2014.
• With a diploma in event management, Vassallo was formerly the association's chief executive officer, a post he had occupied since 2010. He is a thoroughbred in football administration, having held administrative positions with a local football club for several years.
• Married with two daughters, Vassallo's managerial qualities are ideal in the context of the MFA's plans to establish a new basis to consolidate its long-term development programme.