Matthew Abela is the longest-serving badminton athlete in Malta with more than 14 years of experience on court. The 20-year-old stems from a badminton background through his own family having several family members, including his own father, who paved the way for him to excel in the sport.
Matthew is slowly making his way up in the big leagues being 271st on the international ranking in the Men’s singles category, according to the Badminton World Federation.
The young star had to take a leap of faith by leaving his country to live and train with the prestigious Centre of Excellence in Holbæk, Denmark. There, he is able to develop his skills even further and pursue his dream to become the best of the best. He continues to set the bar high while he proudly represents the Yobetit brand through his professional career.
Matthew hopes that he will one day represent Malta in the Olympics, proving once again that he is indeed a motivation to aspiring young athletes.
What keeps you so determined and motivated?
I fell in love with this sport and enjoy what I do. I try to stay positive and keep focusing on my goals. There are many things that I want to prove and achieve, thanks to my family and friends who support me. I try to keep focused and work hard to bring results to Malta.
How's life training away from home in a place such as Denmark?
It was a bit tough in the beginning. I felt that I was a step lower than the other players in the center. They had more experience, and also their level was higher. After two years, I feel that I have gained confidence and made considerable improvements not just in my level but also in my ranking. Denmark is very different from Malta, and I also had to adjust to a different type of weather, it is very cold here, especially in the winter. But I fit in quickly, and with the help of the other players and coaches, I got used to the different lifestyle easily.
What are some qualities you as an individual share with Yobetit?
What I have seen in Yobetit recently is their high ambitions and progression. I can relate to this personally as I feel I have been doing really well and have the same desire to reach the top. Also, there is always a friendly environment at the office or when I talk with any of the employees. I try to have the same positive energy as well.
Is there a memorable match you cherish in your career?
A match I will always remember was back to May 2016, when I won my first national title in Men’s singles against Stefan Salomone. It was a great moment and a massive relief after having worked so hard that year to achieve being the best player in Malta. I fought well, and it always brings back good memories when I look back on that day.
What advice would you give young Maltese athletes wishing to pursue their dreams in the sporting world?
If you have the chance and willing to give your 100%, take it. Enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity. You will learn a lot about yourself and the sport that you are in; it will make you challenge your limits and achieve goals that you didn’t think you were able to do.
Who do you look up to as a role model?
I have many badminton players who I respect and love to watch such as Lin Dan (China), Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) and Hans Kristian Solberg Vittinghus (Denmark), but an athlete I have always admired is Steven Gerrard (Former Liverpool player). He’s a person I wanted to be like when I watched him as a kid. He’s passionate, leading by example and never gives up. I still watch videos of him to motivate me before training or tournaments.
What are your plans for the future? Any upcoming tournaments?
I plan to stay another year in Denmark at the Centre of Excellence till my contract expires in 2020, and then maybe I will consider other options. Thanks to Yobetit, I can play more tournaments, so I plan to participate in approximately seven different competitions until the end of the year. Mostly in Europe but also a few in Africa (Morocco and Egypt).