The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

South End Core

Michael Briguglio Thursday, 11 November 2021, 07:50 Last update: about 6 months ago

Almost 15 years ago, a group of dedicated supporters set up the South End Core. Their aim was to unite the different supporters’ clubs in Malta, and an upcoming fixture opened a window of opportunity for this to happen.

The men’s national football team was due to play Turkey, on the 8th of September, the same day that the Knights of Malta defeated the Ottomans in 1565. The spectacular football game ended in a 2-2 draw, amidst phenomenal support for the home side at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium.

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Since then, the South End Core (SEC) kept organising and choreographing various football, rugby, and other national team sport events. This also included visits to away games, the most recent being that of Malta’s men’s national football team game against Cyprus last October which also resulted in a 2-2 draw.

Just a few days ago, the same team lost at home to Slovenia, but the South End Core spectacle did not wane! A good number of supporters turned up to support Malta’s national team. A sense of community was in the air. Unity in diversity was being practiced and displayed, and those who wanted to join the community were more than welcome to do so.

Supporters were urged to wear red t-shirts and to sing and clap during the game whilst being guided by the South End Core spokesperson on the PA system. Before the game started, a huge banner was paraded on the Millennium Stand, with hundreds of supporters in unity under it as it proudly showed Malta’s national colours. It was a truly spine-chilling moment.

During the same game, the sociologist in me could see people of different class backgrounds, genders, and ages enjoying the same event. Some felt safe to go with their family, others were there with their friends, and others were volunteering for the South End Core. Surely, those present supported different football clubs, had different political opinions and had their own lived experiences in everyday life. In the meantime, the South End Core provided the unifying factor, and one can only admire the volunteers who worked for weeks, if not months, before, during, and after the match to make sure everything is in place. This involves lots of ‘invisible’ work, behind the scenes, guided by a sense of community and not instrumentalist gain.

Thus, apart from its fantastic support for Malta’s teams, the South End Core is also managing to fulfil certain social functions which very few others have managed to do in Malta’s civil society: the SEC unites people from different backgrounds behind its battle cry of Forza Malta.

In the meantime, the South End Core has its own membership base as well as Facebook communities. One can join as a member and even volunteer to assist the organisation. In the process, members are regularly updated about upcoming matches and other initiatives.

One of the best things about this organisation is that it rises above the pique that is present in various spheres of social life. For example, this week Malta’s men’s football team will be playing home to Croatia today and Slovakia on Sunday, whilst the men’s rugby team will be playing home to Israel on Saturday. The South End Core is encouraging supporters to attend all three matches of the respective national teams. Instead of seeing two strong local sports as football and rugby as being in competition with each other, the South End Core sees both teams as providing opportunities for supporters to show up.

I, for one, will be responding to this appeal and will be attending all three matches. I encourage others to do so, and to join the South End Core to help increase this sense of sports community. Good luck to the players, officials and team members who will be representing Malta during these matches.

 

Dr Michael Briguglio is a sociologist and senior lecturer at the University of Malta

www.michaelbriguglio.com

 

 

 

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