[Interview] A Creative Mind

Paul Grech Monday, October 9, 2017 , , , , ,
For book lovers there are few experiences as thrilling as walking into a book shop; the feeling of being surrounded by so many different reading possibilities can be intoxicating.  Eventually, however, reality sets in and choices have to be made over which ones will be coming home with you.  In that moment the decision is often swayed by one crucial factor: looks.

It is in that moment of truth that Pierre Portelli wants to prevail. 

As a book designer he has to handle various aspects of a book’s production.  “Together with the publishing team at Merlin, I am involved in most of the book production process,” he tells me “which includes the fonts used, paragraph spacing and overall layout.”  All of which is important but nowhere close to the value of getting the book cover right.  “Research shows that you don’t have minutes to convince a book buyer; people make their mind up within seconds of picking up a book.  So we have to make something that stands out and convinces people.”

The full interview with Pierre Portelli can be found on Snapshots of Malta.

[Interview] Creativity In Perpetual Motion

Paul Grech Friday, September 8, 2017 , , ,
There is a huge and constant debate over creativity; how some people seem to have an imagination that brings forth countless new ideas whilst others struggle to do anything that is remotely original.  Inevitably the attention of such a discussion turns to children who all seem naturally creative but eventually have that capacity educated out of them.

Whether this is a discussion in which she has been involved before or not, Lisa Falzon puts forward an argument that is very much along those lines when she has to answer question over her development as an artist.

“There was no spark of interest particular to me as if I was born with a special talent - all kids draw,” she states.  “All children draw if given a set of crayons, one of the first thing they figure out is fun to do - after eating them - is using them to leave a mark somewhere. A lot of childhood play is based around make-believe and on-the-fly creativity and role playing.”

She then goes on to turn the tables.  “I just never grew out of this interest in self-expression. Instead of asking me why I draw I should ask you, why did you stop drawing?”

The full interview with Lisa Falzon can be found on Snapshots of Malta.

[Interview] Writing for All Generations

Paul Grech Monday, July 31, 2017 , , ,
Have you ever seen those motivational posters that show an iceberg with the tip above water and the bulk beneath?  It is a reference to the hard work that goes into any success story which most people never get to see.  Perhaps unsurprisingly that was the image that came to my mind as Rita Saliba, one of Malta’s most prolific authors, was describing her writing process.

“Whenever I’m writing, regardless of whether it is a full length novel or a short story,” she explains.  “I have to do a lot of research.  If I’m writing about someone who is into beekeeping then I have to learn about that hobby.  So before I write that story I go out and research about beekeeping even if most of what I learn doesn’t make it into the story.  That knowledge gives depth to the characters and that knowledge remains with you.”

The full interview with Rita Saliba can be read on Snapshots of Malta.

[Featured Article] Twitter Feedback June 2017

Paul Grech Friday, June 30, 2017 , , ,


[Featured Article] Twitter Feedback May 2017

Paul Grech Wednesday, May 31, 2017 , , ,

[Interview] Fuzzhoneys in the UK

Paul Grech Sunday, May 21, 2017 , , ,
Nottingham went a bit Femmetastic last month as Maltese rock duo Fuzzhoneys took their unique blend of blues and rock to England – the latest leg of their tour after a successful concert held at the Salesian Theatre in March.

“Femmetastic has been a word we have been using since the launch of CD Tal-Ġenn,” Caroline Spiteri, one half of the duo, said as she spoke about the name of the tour. “It stuck out for us and we wanted it to stick to us so much that we wrote a song to interpret what the word meant to us.”


[Featured Article] Twitter Feedback April 2017

Paul Grech Sunday, April 30, 2017 , , ,

[Interview] A Goalkeeper's Life: Influence, Anxiety & Normality

Paul Grech Tuesday, April 18, 2017 , , , ,
Most often what people remember of goalkeepers is their mistakes.  Of all the positions in the game of football it is undeniably the harshest because one error can overshadow all the good work that one might do through the rest of the ninety minutes.

And yet, for those called to the role, there is nothing better.   “I wanted a better chance to influence whether my team won or lost,” says Justin Bryant a former professional goalkeeper, current goalkeeper coach and author of the book 'Small Time: A Life in the Football Wilderness.'

”When I was a young player, I got tired of losing games because whoever had reluctantly gone in goal kept letting the ball dribble through his hands. After that happened two or three times, I volunteered, and never looked back.”

The full interview can be read on Blueprint for Football.

[Featured Article] Twitter Feedback March 2017

Paul Grech Friday, March 31, 2017 , , ,

[Interview] A Passion For Technical Coaching

Three years ago I spoke to Ben Trinder about his blueprint for the game.  At the time he was still relatively early in his coaching journey but had delivered an important tool to coaches worldwide with the establishment of the Coaching Family twitter feed.  That is still going strong (there are now more than 50,000 followers) and, happily, so too is Ben himself although time and experience have helped shape his views even further.

The full interview can be read on Blueprint for Football.

[Interview] The Training Requires Disciplines and Focus

Athletics, like a lot of so-called secondary sports, faces a constant struggle against the behemoth that is football.  Boys and, increasingly, girls are more likely to pick the sport which they see most frequently being relayed on televisions - football - than anything else regardless of where their talent truly lies.

Sometimes, however, they make a different choice.  Dario Mangion is a case in point although his story is not that straightforward.

The full article can be read on Snapshots of Malta.

[Featured Article] Fusing fine art and documentation

Paul Grech Sunday, March 26, 2017 , , , , ,
One of the best aspects of good art is that it forces you to think about different ideas. Artists can capture various thoughts and present them in a manner that challenges conventional thinking. Sometimes that process can be assisted by bringing in outside influences who, through their unfamiliarity with the scenery, can result in fresh ways of looking at things.

It is this belief that has resulted in the Blitz Residency Programme. “It was created to facilitate a long-term, international artistic cultural ex­change, while fortifying our role as cultural incubator and advocate organisation for contemporary art practice in Malta,” explains Nicole Bearman, programme director at the Valletta-based art space Blitz.


[Blogging] Books As The Antidote

Paul Grech Saturday, March 25, 2017 , , ,
The term “fake news” is ubiquitous these days. Everyone has heard it and we’ve started peppering our conversations with it too. Occasionally we’ve even started believing this fake news business too.

Of course, this is nothing new. A look at history books confirms this. For one thing, history is written by the victors and these tend to be a bit economic with the facts which don’t exactly paint them in a glorious light.  An examination of the propaganda output preceding and during World War II also reveals a shocking amount of mistruth.

[Featured Article] Twitter Feedback November 2016 till February 2017

Paul Grech Tuesday, February 28, 2017 , , ,


[Interview] Femmetastic

Paul Grech Thursday, February 23, 2017 , , ,
Some interviews can be tough.  There are people who are prone to clamming up; offering monosyllabic answers regardless of how hard you try to put them at ease.  It is even more frustrating if you know that there’s a really good story waiting to be told if only they’d give you something to work with.

This was not such an interview; in fact it was quite the opposite.  The two young women who sat opposite me in a café in Naxxar exuded confidence and both were extremely eloquent in their replies.  Caroline Spiteri and Francesca Mercieca, who perform together under the name Fuzzhoneys, are two musicians who know their mind and don’t shy away from expressing it.

So it was a bit of a surprise when Francesca admitted that she can suffer from nerves when she has to perform.  Which, given that she is the lead singer, can something of a problem.

“During live performances I get so excited, there is so much adrenalin flowing, that sometimes I have to look at videos of our gigs to really appreciate what went on.”

The full interview can be read on Snapshots of Malta.

[Featured Article] Antonio Sibilia: Avellino's Unique and Unforgettable Commander

Paul Grech Monday, February 20, 2017 , , ,
As the ground staff made their way to Avellino’s Stadio Partenio on morning of 20 April 1992, their mood was dark. Over the weekend the team had lost once more, just the latest in a series of squalid performances which had pushed them ever closer to relegation from Serie B.

All their troubled thoughts, however, could hardly have prepared them for the sight that greeted them as they entered the stadium, where a row of crosses stretching from one goal to the other had been planted on the pitch overnight.


"The coach is the most disposable element in a football team."

Having delivered tiki-taka and a generation of players that dominated world football for almost a decade through a system based almost exclusively on ability, Spain is rightly seen as the home of technical football.  Out of this success a culture has developed that is appreciative of the aesthetic and confident that the best results can be achieved through the domination of possession.

Fueling this culture are coaches who bring the ideology to life.  Ismael Díaz Galán is typical of this class.  His experiences might have been limited largely outside the Primera Liga but he is a deep thinker about the game and a keen educator who is eager to share the vision that lights up Spanish football.

The full interview can be read on Blueprint for Football.

Getting Players to Think

Paul Grech Tuesday, January 31, 2017 , , ,
A lot of coaches have mentors who guide their formation and towards whom they look as they develop their ideas.  Few however can match American Todd Beane who found his tutor in his father-in-law, the legendary player, manager and football visionary Johann Cruyff.

Beane began working with Cruyff in the foundation of the Cruyff Institute – an educational institution aimed at educating athletes, sport and business professionals in the field of sport management - in 2002 and continued his work there until Johan’s passing last year.

As a player he had played professionally in the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues (USISL) in America and, before that, he had also played NCAA Division I football at Dartmouth College.  Eventually he transitioned into coaching where he obtained the US Soccer Federation “A” License, coaching both collegiately and professionally.

His other main calling was teaching where he has enjoyed an academic career in a number of institutes having obtained an M.A. in Education and a Secondary Teaching Credential from Stanford University.

More recently, Beane has set up TOVO Training which is a program aimed at developing players’ competencies, cognition and character through game-based exercises. Using the knowledge that he has gained over the years and which typically is available to players at the top academies, he now wants to pass this on to those who wouldn’t normally have access to such knowledge.

On top of it all, Beane wants to get football players thinking on their game: the trait that often marked out Cruyff’s teams and players.

The rest of the interview can be read on Blueprint for Football.
Copyright 2010 Paul Grech: Writer