Aged 19, Matthew Abela already has several titles under his belt. In 2016, he won his first National Championship, becoming the youngest men’s singles player to do so. He started participating in more tournaments abroad until an opportunity of his lifetime came his way. His federation informed him about the newly introduced Centre of Excellence in Denmark and the possibility to attend the selection camp. Matthew was accepted after the second round. Having just finished his MCAST Diploma in Sports, the young player could focus only on badminton.
Young Matthew started playing badminton around the age of five, introduced to this sport through his family. His father and two of his uncles were all badminton players. His father enrolled him in a badminton summer camp at the age of six along with his brother. As a child, he played football like most other kids in Malta, but as he grew older he fell in love with badminton. He says he appreciated not having to rely on others.
Soon Matthew understood that he couldn’t keep developing by staying in Malta. Where is he now, and what are his plans?
Eve: You’re considered as Malta’s very own badminton star. How does it make you feel?
Matthew Abela: I don’t consider myself as a star. I am just training hard and trying to improve as much as I can to become a better player. The road ahead may not be easy, but I am willing to do what it takes to become a top badminton player.
Eve: Don’t be shy, tell us where your next badminton tournaments will be this year.
MA: By the end of this year I am planning to participate in four or five tournaments: Eurasia Bulgarian Open Championship in August, Polish International in September, Egypt International in October, Morocco International, as well as Slovenia Future Series in November.
Eve: This year you’re representing YoBetit during your attendance at a number of international tournaments. What is it like to be this brand’s ambassador and what does it entail?
MA: It’s an honour for me and I am grateful that they have put their trust in me. Being their ambassador means that I will proudly wear their logo during international tournaments. I hope that we will achieve success together.
Eve: This year you’re focusing on improving your ranking to make it up to the top 300 in men’s single category. In what way are your dealing with this?
MA: I am participating in a number of international tournaments to gain more ranking points. Right now this is more difficult as many players will be trying to gain as many points as possible to qualify for the Olympics in 2020. So the players’ level will be much higher. Regarding my training, I have devised a training plan together with my coaches. It focuses more on my weak points and trying to find strategies on how to improve them. It is also very important to plan ahead and have a good training programme.
Eve: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
MA: The best advice I have ever received was given to me by my uncle after losing one doubles game when I was a junior player U-15. He told me that you are going to lose many times in your life, but that’s how you will learn.
Eve: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
MA: A superpower I would like to have is the power of healing, in this way I can heal my injuries or illnesses, as well as help other people who are sick and suffering from diseases.