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Hamrun Spartans F.C. Youth Nursery

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Articles from the Media on the Hamrun Spartans F.C. Youth Nursery


Youth football: First win for Hamrun Spartans

APS Bank U/16 Section A

Hamrun S 2
Sirens 0

The final result does not reflect the true difference between the two teams. Had Hamrun taken all the chances they created the final score would have been much different.

This was Hamrun’s first win from six games having only five points. The game was dominated by the Spartans as Sirens were never in the game, Spartans keeper Lee Garrard could have stayed at home as he only dealt with back-passes from his colleagues. The north sea-siders are still pointless from six games and seem to be heading for a quick return to Section B next season.

The onslaught by Hamrun started as early as the third minute. From a free kick shot by Kyle Civelli the ball was cleared to a comer and from the flag kick by the same player the ball was cleared to another corner.

From a Chris Cardona cross from the right the ball was partly cleared and Sirens keeper Clayton Sammut saved the rebound shot by Ryan Refalo, and minutes later he saved a free kick by Civelli after Cardona was fouled outside the area.

A free kick by Brady Parnis was partly cleared and the ball missed the upright from the rebound by Craig De Battista.

In the 15th minute Ryan Cardona should have opened the score but he drove over the bar from an ideal position after a perfect cross from the right by Parnis, Cardona then served Refalo in the area but a defender cleared the ball to a corner from his shot.

In the 25th minute Hamrun deservedly opened the score with a choral move which involved three players. Cardona crossed from the right to Civelli who in turn served Glenn Frendo with a through ball in the area and netted with a rising shot.

Hamrun resumed with their pressing and created two actions before the break; Civelli served Yoran Camilleri with a through ball on the left flank but the Sirens keeper neutralized the ball from the latter’s cross and Cardona entered the area after beating two defenders on the right flank, he served Refalo with a perfect cross but Sammut turned his shot to a corner.

The second period was a carbon copy of the first with Hamrun pressing their opponents by creating an action after another. De Battista served Frendo in the area and Sammut denied him with a diving save. Parnis served Cardona with a through ball in the area but Tyrone Sammut cleared the ball to a corner. Camilleri served Cardona in the area but he drove slightly over the bar, the same player, a few minutes later, missed the upright after a Refalo cross from the right.

Frendo served Refalo with a through ball outside the area, the latter served Camilleri in the area and his shot was cleared to a corner which was taken by Civelli and the ball was cleared to another corner.

Hamrun doubled the score in the 64th minute. Camilleri served Cardona with a through ball on the right flank who then crossed to substitute Darren Rapa who scored with a low shot from inside the area. Assured of the result, Hamrun eased their pressing and created only two occasions before the final whistle. Civelli served Parnis in the area but a defender cleared his shot to a corner and De Battista served Rapa with a short free kick pass, he served Frendo in the area and the ball hit the base of the upright from his shot and finished out.

Referee: Kevin Azzopardi

Player of match: Kyle Civelli (Hamrun S)

09.10.2007 The Times of Malta

Record man Sultana still 'hungry' to succeed

Kevin Azzopardi

Stefan Sultana... still enthusiastic about the game and his club Hamrun Spartans.

Stefan Sultana was said to be in the home stretch of his illustrious football career a long while ago but the veteran Hamrun Spartans striker has ignored conventional wisdom by playing on well into his 30s.

It's just as well he did for Sultana has not only helped the Spartans regain their Premier League status last season, he has also established a string of impressive milestones en route.

Having eclipsed Tony Nicholl's record of 173 goals in top-division football back in February 2003, Sultana recently set a new mark for number of official appearances in local football.

His participation in Hamrun's creditable Premier League 2-2 draw against Birkirkara last Friday was his 511th overall, two more than the previous record held by Kris Laferla who figured in a total of 509 matches for Valletta and Sliema Wanderers.

This new landmark is indeed a remarkable and deserving achievement for Sultana who, apart from his undoubted footballing attributes, has always been bracketed among the most exemplary players in the domestic game.

Speaking to The Times yesterday, Sultana revealed the true motivation behind his decision to keep playing at the ripe age of 39.

"My goal has always been to end my career while I'm still playing in the Premier League," Sultana said, dropping the first hint that this season could be his last.

"Coming off a good season in Division One, I felt I still had something to offer to the team. I was also fully aware that holding down a regular berth in the first XI would not be easy but I haven't lost the appetite to fight for a place.

"I am never happy when I'm not in the first team but I see that as a positive thing, a sign that my hunger and enthusiasm has not wavered one bit."

Sultana is justifiably delighted about his latest record but he admits that his position as Malta's all-time leading scorer gives him more pride.

"The goals record is more satisfying," said Sultana, who has scored 188 goals in the Premier League and a total of 250 in all competitions.

"I'm also glad to have set a new record for appearances in local football, moreso when taking into account that I've spent most of my career with a top club like Hamrun Spartans (Sultana's only spell away from Hamrun was with Hibs between 1998 and 2001).

"We have had our fair share of upsets in the last decade or so but Hamrun are still one of the biggest clubs in Malta."

After their relegation from the elite division in 2005-06, the Spartans secured an immediate return to the Premier League as Division One champions last season.

Judging by their performances and results so far in the league, Hamrun look a solid bet to avoid the drop as they are currently fifth in the standings with 10 points from six matches.

The Spartans have certainly looked at ease in their 'new' habitat but Sultana sounded a note of caution.

"We have made a fairly good start to the season but there's still a long way to go," Sultana said.

"It has been a balanced league so far and all teams have opened their account. All sides have shown that, on their day, they can hold their own against any opposition as Mqabba did when they beat Sliema.

"As far as we're concerned, we can be reasonably satisfied with our progress so far but we shouldn't get carried away."

How does Sultana rate Hamrun's chances of booking their place in the Championship Pool?

"Much will depend on the outcome of the direct clashes," Sultana replied.

"The indications are that all teams are well equipped to offer a strong challenge for a place in the Championship Pool."

As club captain and the most experienced player in the squad, Sultana has added responsibilities but the former Malta striker feels that the young elements in the team also have the necessary experience to cope with the increased pressures of competing in the Premier League.

"I'm the captain and oldest player in the squad, so it's only natural that I feel a greater sense of responsibility.

"However, our young players have been in the first squad for a number of years and are experienced enough to make their mark in the league."

Although Sultana is still a key figure in the Spartans' team, he is the first to acknowledge that he's approaching the end of the road.

May 2008 is likely to be the month Sultana brings the curtains down on his career.

"There is a 99 per cent chance that this will be my last season as a player," Sultana said.

"I say 99 per cent just to give myself that one per cent leeway in case I change my mind.

"Physically, my fitness level is good but obviously, I feel more tired after games than I used to when I was younger.

"I decided to keep playing because I was prepared and willing to train with the rest of my team-mates every single day. If I had not been ready to undertake this commitment, I would have stopped there and then."

Like most of his fellow peers, past and present, Sultana intends to stay in the game as a coach. In fact, he has already obtained the UEFA A coaching badge.

"I already have a coaching role within the Hamrun nursery," Sultana said.

"I'm pleased with the way the nursery is developing under my guidance and that of Marco Grech.

"I had offers to coach senior teams but first I want to gain experience by coaching youngsters."

Hamrun should indeed consider themselves privileged to have a person of Sultana's ability and dedication in their ranks, both as a player and a coach. As for his national standing, Sultana's name is bound to be inscribed in the annals of Maltese football for many decades to come.

29.09.2007 The Times of Malta

Sultana equals Laferla's appearance record

Rinus Dahles, Marsascala

Veteran striker Stefan Sultana made his 509th official appearance in Maltese football in Hamrun Spartans' 1-0 Premier League victory over Msida St Joseph on Wednesday.

Kris Laferla, who retired at the end of season 2004-05, is the only other Maltese player to have figured in 509 matches. The former Valletta and Sliema defender scored 67 goals in his career.

Sultana, 39, currently holds a host of records in Maltese football. He has played the highest number of matches in the Premier League so far, 386, and is the all-time top-scorer in the top division with 188 goals. His netting against Mqabba was the 250th of his career, another record for a Maltese player at this level.

The next time Sultana turns out for Hamrun Spartans, he will set a new mark for number of appearances in Maltese football.

I hope the Maltese community gives Sultana the recognition he certainly deserves. He is a great football player and a real gentleman.

14.09.2007 The Malta Independent

Youth football: Ten-man Spartans earn a point
by Victor Ciangura

Despite playing with 10 men for 48 minutes, Hamrun managed to earn a point with a gallant defensive display which kept the City forwards at bay. The Citizens had their good moments and created scoring chances.

The first two occasions were created by Valletta. Bydasser Sammut crossed from the left to Karl Azzopardi who back-passed the ball to Neil Chircop but his shot missed the bar by inches.

Sammut served Matthew Caruana with a through ball but he was foiled by a timely tackle by Brady Parnis.

At the other end, Ryan Cardona served Craig Debattista from a freekick and City keeper Dunstan Zarb saved his shot.

Yuran Camilleri served Stefan Vella with a through ball in the area but Valletta defender Yessous Camilleri cleared his shot to a corner.

Kyle Civelli served Wayne Vella on the right flank from a freekick and from the latter’s cross Glenn Frendo headed just out.

Eight minutes before half time Hamrun were reduced to 10 men as Craig Debattista was shown the red card for striking Karl Azzopardi in an off-the-ball incident.

A minute before half time Valletta went very close to open the score as Azzopardi served Tonio Mackay with a back pass who in turn served Sammut with a through ball in the area but his shot just missed the post.

Valletta had the lion’s share of exchanges in the second period with Hamrun creating only two occasions.

The first action came from Hamrun as Brady Parnis served Wayne Vella on the right flank. The latter served Ryan Cardona in the area but Zarb foiled him from concluding with a timely sortie.

A freekick shot by Yessous Camilleri was headed away by a Hamrun defender. Hamrun keeper Lee Garrard saved a shot by Matthew Caruana, another freekick shot by Yessous Camilleri was cleared to a corner by a defender and substitute Alfre Carabott served Tonio Mackay in the area but he fouled a Spartans defender and a good chance was lost.

After substitute Ryan Refalo was fouled on the right flank, Zarb saved the freekick shot by Kyle Civelli and the last action came from Valletta when the ball was cleared to a corner after a freekick by Yessous Camilleri.

Referee: Trustan Farrugia

08.09.2007 L-Orizzont

Hamrun Spartans jorganizzaw il-Pre-Season Tournament - Charles Farrugia

Fil-jiem li ghaddew in-nursery tal-Hamrun Spartans organizzat Pre-Season Tournament ghal timijiet tal-Under 14 fil-Victor Tedesco Ground li fih hadu sehem in-nurseries ta' Pieta' Hotspurs, Naxxar Lions, Melita u Hamrun Spartans.

It-tournament sar taht forma ta' league u t-trofew intrebah mit-team ta' Pieta' Hotspurs.

It-team ta' Hamrun Spartans gie fit-tieni post u warajh gie dak ta' Naxxar Lions, segwit minn Melita.

13.05.2007 Illum

Sultan f’palazz b’ 100 sena storja

Li club jagħlaq 100 sena ta’ storja mhux ċajta. Imbgħad f’pajjiż bħal Malta ħaġa bħal din hi aktar diffiċli milli wieħed jaħseb meta tikkunsidra li kważi l-ebda club Malti m’għandu dħul mill-futbol.
Ħamrun Spartans hu wieħed mill-clubs glorjużi ta’ pajjiżna. Anki jekk ilhom is-snin ma jkollhom skwadra li tikkompeti fil-kampjonat Premier, baqgħu wieħed mill-aktar clubs popolari fil-gżira.
Iddominaw is-Snin 80 u din is-sena żiedu unur ieħor hekk kif rebħu l-kampjonat ta’ l-Ewwel Diviżjoni u sparaw ruħhom fl-ogħla kampjonat Malti, proprju fejn jixirqilhom.
Din id-darba ċ-ċelebrazzjonijiet tagħhom jistgħu jkunu jfissru ħafna aktar minn normal għax ħabtu m’għeluq iċ-ċentinarju ta’ dan il-club glorjuż.
Il-Ħamruniżi jibqgħu magħrufin għall-briju u l-ispettaklu li joffru. Tista’ ma tkunx Ħamruniż però hu fatt u kulħadd jammetti li l-kampjonat Premier mingħajrhom qisu platt għaġin mingħajr zalza.
Wara li t-tim ta’ San Gejtanu akkwista dan is-suċċess ħsibt li hu l-mument opportun biex din l-intervista nagħmilha mal-captain ta’ din l-iskwadra li ta’ 38 sena għadu idolu fost il-Ħamruniżi bil-253 goal li skorja s’issa fil-karriera tiegħu. Ħadd s’issa ma rnexxilu jiskorja daqshekk fl-istorja tal-futbol Malti u jekk wieħed jagħti ħarsa lejn dawk li jsegwuh f’din l-istatistika, wieħed isib li diffiċli ħafna biex tinqabeż din iċ-ċifra.
Ma’ Stefan iltqajt it-Tnejn li għadda fil-Victor Tedesco Stadium fil-ħin li kien qed jikkowċja lill-youths tal-Ħamrun. Poġġejna fuq il-bank tar-riservi f’dan il-gound meraviljuż, proprju fl-uniku post għall-kenn li kien hemm. Lil Stefan kont nafu ftit. Qatt ma kelli ċ-ċans li nitkellem miegħu daqshekk fit-tul. Bħalma nagħmlu bejnietna kulmeta niltaqgħu Stefan ikellimni fuq il-Juventus.
B’attenzjoni liema bħala, waqt li nagħmillu l-mistoqsijiet li kelli ppreparati, għajnejh ma qatgħu qatt minn fuq l-istruzzjonijiet li kien għadu kemm ta lit-tim tiegħu biex jitħarreġ.
“Jien raġel tal-familja, plejer u kowċ fin-nursery ta’ Ħamrun Spartans. Taħlita ta’ kollox f’daqqa. Naħseb li jien bniedem ċajtier u dejjem nara kif se nivvinta ċ-ċajt. Ħafna nies li ma jafunix jaħsbu li jien xi bniedem stramb għax kważi dejjem hekk jgħiduli. Rari ngerger b’xi ħaġa, anzi, persuna tgerger għal xejn iddejjaqni.
“Kont immur skola is-Seminarju tal-Virtù. Kien rani Dun Anton Portelli u staqsieni nkunx interessat ningħaqad mal-Ħamrun Liberty. Wara ġimagħtejn bdejt niġi u xi tliet xhur wara beda jiġi ħija wkoll.
“Konrad m’għadux jilgħab għax kien weġġa’ rkoptu u ma setax ikompli. Sfortunatament hawn Malta meta plejer iweġġa’ jkollu jaqdef għal rasu u l-operazzjoni li kellu bżonn jagħmel ma saritx. Waqaf ta’ 35 sena.
“Illum jien ngħallem l-Edukazzjoni Fiżika fil-Junior Lyceum tal-Ħandaq. Din hi s-sitt sena tiegħi hemm u qabel għallimt ukoll fit-Technical Institue”.
Bejn skola, futbol u familja nistaqsih kif iqassam il-ġurnata tiegħu.
“Mill-iskola nibqa’ ġej nikkowċja fin-nursery. Imbagħad ikolli t-taħriġ u nerġa’ lura d-dar fit-tard. Ili għaddej b’din ir-rutina snin sħaħ.
“Jien sirt ftit popolari bis-saħħa tal-Ħamrun Spartans. Bdejt magħhom minn meta kelli 11-il sena u għadni sa llum. Li tagħmel 27 sena f’post mhux ċajta. Kwart ta’ seklu qattajtu ma’ dan il-club. Il-parti l-kbira minn ħajti għextha ma’ dawn in-nies. Dak iż-żmien kont bdejt il-Hamrun Liberty. Għalkemm jien Żabbari, il-Ħamrun jibqa’ għal dejjem parti importanti f’ħajti.”
Stefan Sultana hu Żabbari mwieled fit-18 ta’ Lulju 1968. Miżżewweġ lil Lucienne u missier ta’ Erika ta’ 13-il sena u Greta ta’ 11-il sena. Ikellimni wkoll fuq il-Ħamruniżi.
“L-imħabba li rajt mill-partitarji lejn dan il-club hi waħda tremenda. Sfortunatament issa ilna ftit żmien ma nirbħu xi unur. Imma jien inħossni furtunat li lħaqt l-aħjar żmien tal-Ħamrun. Magħhom irbaħt tliet darbiet il-kampjonat, erba’ darbiet it-Trophy u ħames Super Cups. Dawk kienu żminijiet tad-deheb u nħossni kburi li kont nagħmel parti minn dak it-tim.”
Nistaqsih x’affarijiet ra jinbidlu fil-Ħamrun mill-ewwel żminijiet tiegħu sal-ġurnata ta’ llum.
“Dak iż-żmien anqas kont nimmaġina li għad jiġi żmien li jkollna niġġieldu biex ma naqgħux. Fis-Snin Tmenin kellna l-aħjar plejers ta’ Malta u ovvjament f’tim tal-futbol dik hi l-aktar ħaġa importanti. Tant kemm konna nirbħu unuri b’mod faċli li l-ewwel darba li rrealizzajt li l-Ħamrun jistgħu jitilfu wkoll kien meta tlifna l-ewwel finali tat-Trophy kontra l-Belt fil-ħin barrani b’goal ta’ Donçic. Kienet l-unika finali li tlifna mill-ħamsa li lgħabna. Dik kienet l-unika darba li tlift xi ħaġa importanti mal-Ħamrun.”
Il-futbol fil-Ħamrun hu reliġjon. Din hi frażi li għidtha lil Stefan filwaqt li staqsejtu jaqbilx magħha.
“Trid tkun lgħabt ma’ Ħamrun Spartans biex tkun taf x’ifisser verament dan it-tim għall-Ħamruniżi. Il-massa l-kbira tal-Ħamruniżi għadhom sa llum ifittxu l-ewwel fil-media sportiva r-riżultati fejn jidħol il-Ħamrun.
“Diffiċli biex tirbaħ xi ħaġa jekk ma jkollokx xi persuna fil-club finanzjarjament b’saħħitha. It-tim ibati ħafna għax ma jkunx jista’ jakkwista l-aħjar plejers. Però fl-istess ħin dak ikun pożittiv ukoll għax tibda tilgħab bit-tfal li jkun tella’ l-club stess. Jien niftakar li fi żmieni kien ikun ferm diffiċli biex joħroġ plejer minn nursery.
“L-aħħar plejers li konna ħriġna minn hawnhekk konna jien u Joe Brincat. Imbagħad warajna kien hemm David Camilleri u Rupert Mangion. Jekk tara l-iskwadra ta’ din is-sena minn 23 plejer hemm 22 minnhom Ħamruniżi u l-ieħor barrani.”
Fil-bidu ta’ l-istaġun il-Ħamrun kienu anki f’riskju li jitilfu posthom mill-Ewwel Diviżjoni. Madankollu, b’determinazzjoni liema bħala, it-tim għamel titjib kbir tant li rebaħ sensiela ta’ partiti wara xulxin li bihom tela’ fl-ewwel post. X’inbidel minn dak inhar?
“Bdejna ħażin ħafna. Mill-ewwel tliet logħbiet ħadna punt wieħed biss. Onestament bdejt nibża’ li se jiġrilna bħal Rabat Ajax jew Zurrieq. Però fortunatament kellna kowċ li baqa’ kalm u ma tfixkel f’xejn f’sitwazzjoni bħal dik. Ta’ min jgħid ukoll li l-logħbiet negattivi tagħna kienu meta l-pitches ma kellhomx ħaxix. Il-Hibs Ground u l-Victor Tedesco Stadium kienu għadhom ħamrija. Appena ġew strutturati u stajna nilagħbu aktar futbol sew ħadna 10 rebħiet u draw. Aħna l-aktar tim tekniku allura ħaġa bħal din setgħet taħdem kontrina biss.”
253 goal fil-karriera tiegħu. Impressjonanti. Nitolbu jgħidli liem jaħseb li kien l-aktar wieħed sabiħa u liema huma dak li jibqa’ jiftakar għal għomru filwaqt li nistaqsih x’irid ikollu verament attakkant tajjeb.
“L-isbaħ goal li qatt għamilt kien kontra Floriana xi erba’ snin ilu. Kienet mezza rovexxata minn barra l-kaxxa. Għad għandi l-kummentarju tiegħek.
Però l-goal li ksirt ir-rekord bih nibqa’ niftakru wkoll kontra Marsaxlokk fic-Centenery Stadium b’xutt minn barra l-kaxxa. U ma ninsa qatt iż-żewġ goals fir-replay tal-finals tat-Trophy kontra Valletta u Floriana.
“Ma nafx li qatt xi darba qatt ħsibt x’għandi tajjeb li skurjajt daqshekk goals. Li naf hu li jekk ma niskurjax għal xi tliet logħbiet wara xulxin tagħtini rasi. Naħseb li li jkollok l-istint tal-goal tkun ġo fik kemm fil-pożizzjoni u anki f’materja ta’ fortuna. Però furtuna ma tistax tkun dejjem. Importanti li dejjem tiżmarka ruħek mid-difensuri. Hawn plejers kbar li jagħmlu ħafna xogħol utli imbagħad jiġu quddiem il-lasti waħedhom u jixxuttjaw barra. Il-lasti ma jkunux jafu jarawha. Naħseb li hawn plejers li meta jiġu quddiem il-lasta jibdew jarawha qisha waħda tal-5-a-side. Striker tajjeb irid ikun intelliġenti li jimmarka l-vojt u jindirizza l-ballun hemm.”
Hu fatt li s-saħħa tat-tim naqset ħafna miż-żminijiet passati. Inkellem lil Stefan fuq x’jara differenti fit-tim li miegħu qatta tant snin.
“Mhux ġust li tqabbel it-tim tal-lum ma’ dak tas-Snin Tmenin. Konna club kollu stilel. Meta naqas plejer dejjem ġibna ieħor mill-ewwel. Ma ninsa qatt plejers bħal Michael Degorgio, Ray Vella, Gejtu u Leo Refalo, Joe Brincat, David Camilleri u Alex Azzopardi. Iż-żminijiet jinbidlu u llum lili jgħiduli n-nannu. Forsi b’hekk għadni nħossni żgħażugħ. L-aktar importanti kienet li s-sinsla tat-tim kienu kważi kollha Ħamruniżi. Meta kellna xi nuqqas ġibna l-aqwa żewġ barranin li kien hemm dak iż-żmien, lil Barry Gallagher u Ian Leigh. Lill-Maltin kollha għadni narahom u niltaqa’ magħhom. Imma għandi kurżità biex insir naf x’sar minnhom il-barranin. Nixtieq li xi darba tiġi organizzata xi reunion u nerġa’ niltaqgħu kollha flimkien.”
U kull Ħamruniż żgur li jixtieq li xi darba jsir dan kollu f’forma ta’ serata. Jien inkun l-ewwel wieħed li ngħin fiha. Forsi fl-aħħar ta’ l-istaġun li ġej ikun iż-żmien ideali biex il-mitt sena ta’ storja tkun magħluqa f’serata unika li ma tintesa qatt.
Stefan ikompli minn jeddu billi jgħidli kemm hu kowċ kbir u jaf il-logħba bl-amment Atanas Marinov.
“Mis-suċċess ta’ din is-sena għandu mertu kbir il-kowċ. Inħoss li għaraf jisfrutta l-potenzjal tal-plejers kollha u anki ħalla fuq il-bank lil min ma kienx għaddej mill-forma. Fil-bidu kien hawn min issuppervja imma meta fit-taħriġ reġa’ ta l-massimu tiegħu reġa’ daħal u ma nqalax.
“Kien hawn kompetizzjoni kbira bejn min jilgħab u le dan l-istaġun. Fil-bidu kellna lil Gaetan Spiteri nieqes, imbagħad weġġajt jien u ġie żmien fejn Steve Meilaq ma kienx għaddej minn forma tajba. Kien hemm żmien fejn anki Rupert Mangion ma lgħabx. Appena reġa’ beda jilgħab spiċċa biex kien l-aqwa plejer tat-tim.”
Nitkellem ma’ Stefan fuq il-fatt kif bħala veteran jara l-fatt li t-tim ta’ ħajtu qed jiċċelebra 100 sena.
“Li club jagħlaq 100 sena mhux ċajta. Il-plejers kollha għandhom ikunu kburin li jagħmlu parti minn skwadra li din is-sena spiċċat champions ta’ l-Ewwel Diviżjoni kif kien jixraq. Jien ma kontx inkun kuntent biss bil-promozzjoni. Għall-Ħamrun Spartans dan mhux biżżejjed.”
Imma Ħamrun Spartans safejn jistgħu verament jaslu fil-kampjonat Premier b’din l-iskwadra?
“Trid tkun realistiku u tgħid li għalissa żgur m’għandniex biex nirbħu l-kampjonat. Aħna ffortunati li għandna dan il-ground fejn nitħarrġu li hu l-għira ta’ ħafna timijiet oħra. Qegħdin f’Mejju u kif tista’ tara l-ground għadu f’kundizzjoni tajba. Ħadd f’Malta m’għandu l-faċilitajiet tagħna taqta’ l-Hibernians u l-Luxol.”
Nitkellem ma’ Stefan fuq ċerti kurżitajiet u opinjonijiet differenti ta’ nies li tant iħobbu l-futbol. Nistaqsih min jaħseb li hu l-aqwa attakkant li lagħab miegħu f’karriera daqstant twila.
“Aktar milli attakkant naħseb li kien midfielder l-aktar plejer li sewa għalija personali. Jekk tara l-goals li għamilt tinduna li hemm persentaġġ qawwi minnhom li l-ballun ġie minn saqajn Michael Degorgio. Il-ħajja fil-ground waqt logħba futbol b’Michael ħdejk hi ħafna aktar faċli.”
U liema kien l-aqwa difensur li sab jimmarkah kemm ilu jilgħab? Filwaqt li jidħak, Stefan jgħidli, “Aħjar insemmi dawk li m’għadhomx jilagħbu biex ħadd ma joħroġ ikkargat għalija. Diffiċli biex jinqabżu ħafna kont insib lil Pierre Brincat, Joe Galea u Lawrence Attard. Kellhom saħħa tremenda.”
U l-aqwa plejer li qatt kellhom il-Ħamrun?
“Personalment inħoss li kien ukoll Michael Degorgio. Kien hawn plejers oħra kbar. Ma nistax ninsa l-umiltà ta’ Ray Vella u l-onestà ta’ Marco Grech. Kulħadd kellu t-tajjeb tiegħu imma meta nikkunsidra kollox ma’ kollox inħoss li Michael Degiorgio kien l-aqwa plejer li qatt libes il-flokk ta’ Ħamrun Spartans.”
Ma stajtx inħalli ċans bħal dan jaħrabli u ma nkunx tkellimt miegħu fuq it-tim Nazzjonali ta’ żmienu u dak tal-lum.
“Għalkemm lgħabt biss xi 33 logħba nħoss li kelli żmien tajjeb ukoll fit-tim Nazzjonali. Ma nafx il-għala imma lgħabt ħafna minn dawn il-logħbiet ma’ timijiet tamparna jew ftit aħjar minna. Allura ċ-ċansijiet li nġibu riżultati tajbin fihom kienu tajbin. Irbaħna xi sitta jew seba’ logħbiet minn dawn it-33.
“Għandi memorji sbieħ ħafna anki għax kien perjodu fejn fih lgħabt ma’ l-aqwa plejers tal-pajjiż taħt Pippo Psaila, Milorad Kosanovic u Josef Ilic. Xtaqt li lgħbat aktar imma dak iż-żmien kien hemm attakkanti aħjar minni bħal Carmel Busuttil u Gilbert Agius. Ħafna drabi konna nilagħbu b’attakkant wieħed allura kienet diffiċli ħafna biex issib post regolari.
“Għadni mmur b’mod regolari nara t-tim Nazzjonali mat-tfal tan-nursery. Qed jilagħbu futbol tajjeb u hemm erbat itfal li se jagħtuna pjaċir fis-snin li ġejjin. L-importanti hu li l-poplu Malti jmur jagħti l-appoġġ tiegħu għax meta l-ground ikun mimli l-plejers jilagħbu aħjar.”
Nistaqsih x’inhi x-xewqa tiegħu tal-futur.
“Li xi darba jerġgħu jiġu ż-żminijiet tat-Tmeninijiet. Inħobb inkun realistiku. Irridu nsibu bniedem bħal Victor Sciriha ta’ Marsaxlokk, Robert Arrigo ta’ Sliema u Tony Bezzina ta’ Hibernians.
“Aħna l-aħjar żmien tagħna għamilnieh taħt Victor Tedesco. Is-Sur Tedesco kien amministratur kbir u jaf il-logħba tal-futbol bl-amment. Mas-Sur Tedesco meta konna nirbħu logħba 1-0 l-għada kien ikollna laqgħa għax inkunu rbaħna b’goal wieħed biss. Ma kienx ikun kuntent b’rebħa minima tant li tgħidx kemm kien jgħajjat magħna u jgħidilna li ma lgħabniex tajjeb.”
Fl-aħħarnett tasal il-mistoqsija li hi fuq fomm kulħadd. Imma Stefan Sultana meta se jirtira?
“Nies li m’għandhomx x’jaqsmu mal-Ħamrun jgħiduli biex nirtira. Dawk li huma tal-Ħamrun jgħiduli biex inkompli. Inħoss li għandi nagħti kas aktar il-Ħamruniżi.”
Nerġa’ ngħidlu, “Imma mhux aħjar kieku tieqaf on a high note?”
“Jien inħoss li hi xi ħaġa egoistika li tagħmel hekk. Nieqaf meta nħoss li t-tim m’għandux bżonni aktar.
“Mhux vera d-diċerija li kien hawn li kif niskurja goal is-sena d-dieħla fil-Premier se nieqaf. Hi verità li ma nimmaġinax li għandi nilgħab il-logħbiet kollha għax il-Premier aktar iebes mill-Ewwel Diviżjoni. Imma nammetti li d-data biex nieqaf mhix ’il bogħod. Meta niftakar jaqbadni d-dwejjaq. Ma nimmaġinanix mingħajr futbol.
“Stefan Sultana jkun hawn ieħor żgur ’il quddiem. Ma naħsibx li jien l-aqwa plejer li qatt kellu l-Ħamrun.”
Finalment jasal il-messaġġ u l-appell tiegħu lill-Ħamruniżi.
“Il-messaġġ tiegħi lejn il-Ħamruniżi hu biex jibqgħu jgħinu lit-tim kemm jistgħu. Sfortunatament wara l-logħba tas-sena l-oħra ma’ l-Imsida hawn min għadu urtat u minħabba dan abbandunaw it-tim. Jista’ jkun li għandhom raġun għax dak inhar kien hawn ħafna Ħamruniżi li riduna nirbħu dik il-logħba akkost ta’ kollox. Qatt ma rajt nies daqs dak inhar fil-ground ta’ Kordin. Imma plejer ikollu bżonn il-partitarji fil-mumenti diffiċli. Jekk Alla jrid is-sena d-dieħla nerġgħu nibdew nimlew Ta’ Qali.
“L-intenzjoni tiegħi hi li nibqa’ mal-Ħamrun. Il-ħolma tiegħi hi li xi darba nkun il-kowċ tal-Ħamrun Spartans.”
Nirringrazzjah u nerġa’ nibda miexi lejn it-taraġ tal-Victor Tedesco Stadium li jwassalni għat-triq ta’ barra. Waħdi naħseb kemm kien fortunat min fl-aqwa żminijiet ta’ Stefan kellu l-età tiegħi llum. F’moħħi jberren ħsieb ieħor, dak li kont għadni nqum minn bil-qiegħda minn fuq il-bank li fil-futur jista’ jkun li jkun imsaħħan minn Stefan bħala kowċ biex iġib aktar unuri fil-Ħamrun.
Ad multos anno, capitano. U buon compleanno Hamrun Spartans.



The Malta Independent (08.12.06)

Youth football: Sliema keep winning

by Victor Ciangura

Sliema are in second place with 22 points from nine games while Hamrun are on 10 points from same number of games.

The Wanderers were the better outfit and fully deserved the verdict as they kept Hamrun under pressure for long stretches. The latter tried to operate on swift counter-attacks by playing long and high balls, which were dealt with ease by the tall Blues’ defenders.

The Blues sought an early lead from the very first whistle and the game was only a minute old when they were denied by the woodwork. Later, Ciantar put Mottola through but Spartans libero Kyle Calleja foiled him with a timely clearance and Kane Farrugia served Mottola with a through ball in the area but the ball thumped the bar from the latter’s shot and finished out.

In a Hamrun reaction Mauro Busuttil served Lee Agius with a through ball but Kane Farrugia foiled him from advancing with a timely intervention.

Sliema forged ahead on 19 minutes when Mottola square-passed to Simeon Yordanov who netted with a hard grounder from inside the area. After a solo run down the right flank Mercieca executed an insidious cross which was well neutralised by Garrard and later Mottola crossed from the right to Yordanov who headed over the bar. In a swift Hamrun counter-attack Agius served Busuttil with a perfect through pass and Sliema keeper Michael Incorvaja had to come out of his charge to kick the ball upfield.

A minute before the break Sliema doubled the score. Mercieca served Miguel Ciantar with a through pass on the edge of the area who netted a beauty with a rising shot.

Hamrun created the first action after the restart. Frendo served Busuttil with a through ball but Incorvaja saved his shot to a corner. At the other end, Yordanov served Mottola with a perfect through ball in the area but failed to connect when well placed.

The score became 3-0 on 54 minutes after a choral move involving four players earned Sliema a corner and from Mottola’s flag kick Kane Farrugia headed in from close range.

Three minutes later Hamrun reduced the gap when Mauro Busuttil pounced on a faulty back-pass by Sammut and after entering the area and scored with a low shot.

After this goal Sliema resumed their pressure on the Spartans fort and again hit the woodwork with a Mottola header. Garrard then turned to corner a Mottola shot after a cross by substitute Grech,and just before the final whistle Attard crossed from the left to Scerri but his shot hit the upright and finished out.

Referee: Mohammed Khalil

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (26.11.06)

The Hamrun Spartans Youth Nursery has just launched its new website The website contains the latest news, results and fixtures regarding the teams and other information about the nursery and its facilities. This website is another proof of the professional way by which the Hamrun Spartans nursery is working.


The Malta Independent (24.11.06)

Youth Football by Victor Ciangura

APS Bank U/14 Section B

The Spartans were the better outfit throughout the game and fully deserved the verdict, that are now on nine points from four games while Tarxien have the same number of points from five games.

The first two occasions were created by Tarxien but in a Spartans reaction, Cardona served Ryan Refalo with a through ball in the area and Tarxien keeper Tirchett foiled him from concluding by diving at his feet and smothered the ball.

Tarxien then created another occasion when Aquilina was through just outside the area but was fouled and from the resultant free-kick Schweinbacker floated a perfect ball in the area but Aquilina failed to get his head to the ball to apply the killer touch.

Hamrun forged ahead on 17 minutes. Chris Cardona served Ryan Refalo with a perfect through ball who scored with a strong rising shot on entering the area. In a Tarxien reaction Aquilina served Schembri with a through ball but Camilleri foiled him from concluding with another timely sortie. Two minutes before the break Refalo should have added another goal but he skied the ball when well placed after a perfect through ball by Farrugia. A minute before half time Hamrun doubled through a Farrugia header after a Cardona cross from the right following a through pass by Darren Rapa.

Few were the actions worthy of note during the second period. Tarxien created four opportunities in succession. Schweinbacker put Schembri through but he drove out from outside the area. Aquilina served Borg but Camilleri neutralised his cross-pass from the right and later foiled Chris Mula with a timely sortie after being put through by Schweinbacker. A Spartans defender headed the ball away from a powerful free-kick by Schweinbacker. The last action before the final whistle came from Hamrun as a Tarxien defender cleared the ball to corner from a Cardona shot.

Referee: Jude Uturu

Player of the match: Darren Farrugia (Hamrun S)


The Malta Independent

Youth Football by Victor Ciangura

APS Bank U/16 Section A

Melita 3 - Hamrun S 1

A very enjoyable and action-packed game watched by a sizeable crowd and played on the first class synthetic pitch of Luxol Ground. The Amateurs managed to turn tables over their opponents after suffering an early goal. Referee Mitchell Scerri failed to notice that the jersey of the Hamrun keeper was very much like his team-mates and also failed to apply the advantage clause on three occasions to the detriment of the Melita forwards.

The Spartans created the first occasions. Daniel Bonnici served Mauro Busuttil with a through ball but Melita keeper Andrew Abela foiled him with a timely sortie and he did likewise on the same player minutes later after a one-two with Lee Agius.

In the ninth minute Hamrun opened the score. Glenn Frendo served Ryan Cardona with a perfect through ball, the latter returned the compliment to Mauro Busuttil who scored with an angled grounder after entering the area. In a Melita quick reaction Daniel Bianco served Andrew Vassallo with a through pass but the latter’s cross from the right was neutralized by Hamrun keeper Lee Garrard, at the other end, Busuttil put Agius through and Abela dived full length and saved to corner the latter's shot.

In the 17th minute the woodwork denied Melita the equaliser as the ball hit the base of the upright from a free kick shot by Luke Micallef with Garrard beaten with the ball finishing out and from the resultant goal kick Agius put Busuttil through but his shot from inside the area missed the upright.

Melita obtained a deserved equaliser on 23 minutes. They won a freek kick just outside Hamrun’s area, Christian Ciantar took charge of the kick and Luke Micallef entered the area from the left flank and blasted the ball in the roof of the net with a powerful rising shot and eight minutes later they forged ahead through the same player with another rising shot after he was served with a short pass from an indirect free kick by Darryl Schembri. Hamrun were awarded a penalty on 32 minutes as Matthias Fenech handled the ball in the area after a Ryan Cardona cross from the right. Lee Agius took charge of the kick but Abela brought the house down with a diving save with the ball being cleared to a throw-in.

The last two actions before the break came from Melita. Matthias Fenech crossed from the right to lan Vella after dribbling his way past three defenders but the latter’s shot was cleared to a corner and from a cross by Andrew Vassallo, a shot by Bianco missed the upright.

A minute after restart Melita nearly scored a third goal when from a Vassallo flag kick a shot by Ian Vella was cleared on the fatal line by a defender. Cardona then crossed from the right to Busuttil but he failed to apply the killer touch when well placed in Melita’s area.

On 55 minutes it was Hamrun’s turn to be denied by the woodwork when the ball thumped the bar from a free kick shot by Daniel Bonnici with Abela beaten and the ball was somehow cleared to safety. The Spartans created two occasions in succession. Agius served Busuttil with a through ball but his close range shot missed the upright and in a similar action Busuttil was foiled from concluding after a timely sortie by the Melita keeper.

The last three actions before the end came from Melita and scored a third goal and sealed the issue beyond any doubt. Luke Micallef served substitute Tobias Torpougoff with a cross from the right but he failed to apply the killer touch from one metre with only Garrard to beat. The third goal was scored nine minutes from time with a choral move involving three players. Andrew Vassallo served Luke Micallef on the right flank and he served substitute Beppe Cassar with a perfect cross and he netted from inside the area.

The last action was a free kick shot by Torpougoff which finished over the bar after a foul on Beppe Cassar.

Referee: Mitchell Scerri

Player of match: Luke Micallef (Melita)


The Malta Independent

Youth Football: Good start for Hamrun Spartans

by Victor Ciangura

APS Bank U/16 Section A

Qormi 2 - Hamrun S. 6

The Spartans had a very good start to the season. Newly-promoted Qormi were reduced to 10 men after 22 minutes but they have to improve on their performance if they intend to retain Section A status.

Hamrun dominated from the start, but on 20 minutes, against the run of play, Qormi opened the score. Gabriel Buttigieg floated a ball in the area from a freekick and Ryan Cauchi headed in past Hamrun keeper Lee Garrard.

Two minutes later Hamrun equalised. From a Civelli corner kick, Lee Agius headed the ball goalwards and Ryan Cauchi standing on the goal line did the goalkeeping act. He was eventually red-carded and Lee Agius converted the resultant penalty.

On 27 minutes Qormi regained their slender lead. Jurgen Gerada was put through on the edge of the area, Garrard came out of his charge to foil him and handled the ball outside the area which earned him a yellow card. From the free-kick by the same player the ball hit the crossbar and James Winters hit in the rebound with a grounder.

On 36 minutes the score was again level. Mauro Busuttil served Lee Agius with a through ball in the area and he scored with a hard grounder. From then on Hamrun resumed the pressure creating a chance after another. Xerri foiled Agius with a timely sortie after he was put through by substitute Daniel Bonnici. A freekick by Agius was cleared to a corner and Xerri neutralised an Agius cross.

Hamrun scored a third goal on 56 minutes as Agius received a cross from the right and scored from inside the area, and two minutes later Agius got the best out of Xerri when he had to tip the ball over the bar from his header after a Busuttil cross.

The score became 4-2 for Hamrun on 63 minutes. A corner kick by Agius was partially cleared and Busuttil scored from the rebound. Hardly two minutes later a fifth goal was scored, Karl Magro served Glenn Frendo with a through ball in the area who netted with a low shot. The sixth and final goal was scored eight minutes from time by Frendo after receiving a cross from the right.

Referee: Manuel Calleja

Player of the match: Karl Magro (Hamrun S)

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