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‘How I fell in love with the beautiful game’

Alishia Sultana (left) during the match against Andorra in an international friendly match at the Centenary Stadium.Alishia Sultana (left) during the match against Andorra in an international friendly match at the Centenary Stadium.

Sport Malta through its programme #OnTheMove – formerly known as Skolasport – has been training youths in football since its inception in 1987. Although football sessions at the time were male-dominated, there were always some young girls also taking part.

Today there are over 150 young female football players in addition to the 200 male players enrolled on Sport Malta’s #OnTheMove winter programme, across Malta and Gozo. They are mostly coached by former Skolasport participants, such as Alishia Sultana.

Sultana, a women’s national football team midfielder and Sport Malta coach, learnt her basic football skills and developed a love for ‘the beautiful game’ from her first experience at #OnTheMove.  At the age of 11, she started classes out of curiosity but football instantly became her passion in life.

“I fell in love with the sport and been practising football ever since. After gaining training experience with #OnTheMove, I joined the newly formed Kirkop United FC. After three years, I moved to Birkirkara FC, a club that is well-known in women’s football,” said Sultana.

Sultana, a midfielder for both Birkirkara and the women’s national football team, has represented Malta in over 25 international matches played in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Greece, Bosnia, Serbia, Estonia, Albania and Cyprus.

“Over the past six years, I have played with Birkirkara FC in over 120 matches, winning seven major trophies. With the same club, I have also competed in the Women’s Champions League preliminary rounds on many occasions, such as in Holland in 2013 and in Slovenia last year.”

Football has always been part of Sultana’s family life. She followed in her father’s footsteps and developed a similar love towards the sport as he did. “I was lucky enough to have a father who used to play football regularly when he was younger. He inspired me to go beyond my perceived limits, and to acquire the necessary competitive skills to perform at the level of the game I play today.”

When asked about the secret of her success, she replied: “I am chasing my dream. I never give up and always keep in mind that nothing is impossible. The drive towards both my personal and team goals are a priority for me as they form an integral part of lifestyle. This keeps me motivated, wanting to improve constantly, achieving both a high level of football in my game as well as success.”

Sultana is currently focused on winning all the domestic trophies with Birkirkara. Her long-term goal is to improve physically and further upgrade her level of football.

Alishia Sultana. Photo: Andrew CassarAlishia Sultana. Photo: Andrew Cassar

She urges young participants to persevere in their talent, and remarked: “Keep working hard in any sport you do. It always pays off”, adding that any sport is vital in the learning stages of one’s life as it helps the person to overcome obstacles in life.

Sultana believes the #OnTheMove programme is important to society. “The programme offers a vast range of opportunities to children from a young age and helps them to follow physical training in their favourite sport. We must make sure more and more individuals are assessed during their training, so that they may eventually succeed as athletes and ultimately use the vital tools and skills on a more long-term basis,” said Sultana.

#On the Move’s winter programme includes a variety of educational sports disciplines. The programme has been sponsored by Kellogg’s since 1999. For further information call 2203 6000, e-mail info@sportmalta.org.mt or visit the website below.

www.sportmalta.org.mt

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