03.12.21 Interview: U17 & U19 Goalkeeper Matthew Grima
At sixteen years of age and with the world at his feet, Matthew Grima's rise to prominence in the U19 squad is certainly no fluke. Having displayed signs of great temerity and boldness with the U17 squad, the young goalkeeper's transition into a more onerous & challenging environment was as cool as his 'persona' on the pitch.
Humble and focused, Matthew admits being deeply in love with the beautiful game. 'I’ve always loved football and enjoyed playing however I was struggling to find the right club. Last season I was club-less and desperately looking for the right club.' Considering Swieqi United's positive image & professionalism, it was no surprise that the club would quickly grab the attention of the tenacious goalkeeper. 'Interestingly, my friends had always spoken highly of Swieqi United, so I remember asking them a few questions and I couldn't imagine how amazing the entire set up sounded!' he admits.
The family ambience and 'One Team One Club' policy was also evident right from the start. 'What strikes me is that when I first joined the club, I was very much surprised and extremely happy to see that every amazing thing I had heard about this club actually turned out to be true!' he exclaims.
Following positive performances with the club's U17 squad, Matthew was drafted as back up for the incumbent goalkeepers at U19 before finally cementing a starting position for the Minors squad vs Zebbug Rangers, in a nail-biting 3-2 win.
'Since joining Swieqi, I feel that I have been improving as a player' admits Matthew. His candour and openness certainly seem to rub off on the majority of his teammates & coaching staff. 'This season started off positively and we are looking strong as a team where everyone is determined and focused to achieve what we’re aiming for. From a personal perspective, this season has also been promising as the coaches have given me an opportunity to play with the club's U19 squad – for which I am grateful.'
Considering the auspicious start to proceedings, it would be interesting to gauge how a young player like Matthew is able to cope with the pressure and incessant rigours of the game. 'Well, the fact that we started off so well increased our expectations and we are optimistic about the upcoming games,’ he confesses. 'Yet it is important not to become overconfident and consider each game as a new challenge.'
Being a goalkeeper can make or break people and the responsibilities (coupled with added scrutiny) are often endless. Matthew was frank in his assessment of what it means to play in between the sticks. 'The position of a goalkeeper is very important and has a lot of responsibility since the goalkeeper is the last line of defense and a mistake could cost the game. However, I handle the pressure of being a keeper by staying positive and by remaining focused before the match.' When asked about any pre-match rituals, Matthew quipped that 'Well, usually before the match I listen to music as it helps me deal with all those pre-game nerves - and that's how I prepare for each and every occasion!'
Away from Swieqi, Matthew's role model is Inter Milan’s Samir Handanovic who is a goalkeeper 'I have been watching since I was young and he was the reason I wanted to become a goalkeeper in the first place!'
Positivity and dealing with adversity are two key traits every goalkeeper should possess. Thanks to Swieqi United, Matthew is primed and ready to fulfill all his dreams & ambitions. 'I couldn’t be happier with my choice (of joining Swieqi United) and I’m very proud to be representing the owls.' Good luck Matthew and all the U17/U19 players & coaches. Forza Swieqi!