The idea of a
confederation for the Pacific was first raised in 1964 when the football world
was in Tokyo for the Olympic Games. Three gentlemen discussed the idea and they
put in motion the formation of what was to become the OFC. Their names were Sir
Stanley Rous, then president of FIFA, Jim Bayutti
from the Australian Soccer Federation and Sid Guppy, chairman of the New
Zealand Football Association.
The discussion came about
after a decision by the Asian Football Confederation, which had only been
formed ten years previously, not to accept either Australia or New Zealand for
membership. It was this that laid the groundwork and gave the impetus for those
crucial discussions in Tokyo.
Charles J. Dempsey, CBE, 1921-2008
Charles “Charlie” Dempsey
is considered the ‘Father of OFC’ having played a key role in establishing the
confederation and continuing on in various leadership roles. After the initial
discussions in Tokyo, Dempsey was approached by the NZFA to work with Jim Bayutti to put together the necessary founding documents
and garner support across the world in the hope they would receive a favourable reception at the next FIFA Congress two years
And so it was in 1966,
that FIFA formally approved the proposal and the Oceania Football Confederation
was officially born. The founding members included Australia, Fiji, New Zealand
and Papua New Guinea. New Caledonia were also very
involved in the process but could only be provisional members since the
territory did not have sports autonomy from France at the time.
OFC's first-ever congress
was held in 1968 and the delegates - responding to the proposal by both Australia
and New Zealand - agreed that Sir William Walkley and
Ian McAndrew be appointed chairman and
secretary/treasurer respectively. Both were from Australia. Sir William's fine
opening remarks at the 1968 congress called on "all nations (to) work
together for the development of football in the South Pacific".
Football in the Pacific
received a huge boost when OFC unveiled a million-dollar plan to groom football
stars for the future in a purpose-built facility at one of New Zealand's most
famous rugby venues. The Charles J. Dempsey Football Academy was built at Mount
Smart Stadium at a cost of NZD 1.2 million. The purpose-built facility,
completed in 1999, provides coaching, refereeing and administrative facilities
for all 11 OFC member associations.
It has since accommodated
a variety of teams from across the region, particularly age-group players as
OFC focuses on improving football standards from the youth level. Former OFC
President Charles Dempsey once said, “the future of
football lies with the youth of today and it is they who need our help, to bring
the people into the game and to ensure that they get the very best coaching standards
our region can provide.”
With the backing of the
world body, OFC has moved swiftly on many levels and will continue to do so in
the future. All member associations have fully-functional and staffed offices
and are working tirelessly to develop football in their respective regions. OFC
has relaunched competitions such as the OFC Nations Cup
and O-League to mirror other regional championships and has embraced the new
world of sponsorship and television.
In the years ahead OFC will
continue in its efforts to improve football standards across Oceania both on
and off the field. Like all development work, most of what OFC does not grab
headlines but without the confederation’s work the players and fans in the
member countries would not have the framework within which to practice their skills
and enjoy their football.