DURING the last week of July the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) was particularly busy, with a number of new initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of local teams as well as bringing on new players for the future.
Having worked hard to be accepted by UEFA, the GFA noted that only four local clubs had applied to that organisation for licensing to allow them to participate in European competitions which rather diminished the standing of Gibraltar and its local teams. It has therefore instructed all teams in both the first and second division to apply for appropriate licences and if they don’t, they will not be allowed to be part of the league.
Worried that Gibraltar will see a continuing influx of foreign players, the GFA has not only decided that every team should have a minimum of three players eligible to play for the National team but will even give a financial incentive to teams for each local player used at the end of the season, so the likes of Ronaldo and Messi will have to think long and hard about whether they wish to move to play for a Gibraltar based team.
As part of the drive to introduce and encourage local youngsters to grow through the various youth teams, the GFA has appointed Daniel Berllaque as Head of Youth Football and will require all teams in the first division to have at least three youth teams in any of the categories from Under seven to Under 17.
Finally, it has also been announced that the first international match that European champions Portugal will play will be a friendly match on September 1 against Gibraltar in Portugal, just five days before the Gibraltar team plays its first ever match in the World Cup against Greece in the qualifying rounds.
Other teams in the same group as Gibraltar are Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Estonia.