A two-day FIFA Infrastructure Seminar held in Fiji provided not only a chance for Fiji to show off its skills as a host, but also showcase the infrastructure programmes it has been able to put in place through FIFA Forward.
Fiji FA Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Yusuf said the main objective of the workshop was to enable the Oceania Football Confederation and its Member Associations to work closely with experts in the fields of engineering, architecture and project management on developing and improving top sporting facilities.
“Fiji was chosen to host because of its tremendous record in implementing FIFA infrastructure programmes and Fiji hosting such a workshop is also an indication that the country is doing the right things,” Yusef explained.
“One of the criteria which FIFA used to select the host is the ability of the Member Association and in this case Fiji FA has achieved the completion of a football infrastructure project under the FIFA Forward programme.
“But it is also the growth path that Fiji FA has taken in infrastructure development, like the progress made in the development of our National Football Academy in Labasa where we started with a tender process, followed by a gym at the Fiji FA Headquarters in Vatuwaqa.
“Hosting such high profile workshops is proof of the confidence that FIFA has in the administrative, governance and financial management of Fiji FA because there were a lot of compliance issues that we had to adhere to before getting the approvals and continued funding for the projects. We vow to continue doing well in future projects,” he said
The seminar was officially open by FIFA Council member and Fiji FA president Rajesh Patel at Novotel Conference Center in Lami with Patel reminding participants of the importance of the workshop.
Patel stated that investment in the 11 Oceania countries through FIFA Forward 2.0 has been immense and the workshop will only assist the Member Associations further in their projects.
“Infrastructure is something we badly need in the island nations and this is a very important workshop so I encourage you to make sure you learn a lot from it,” Patel said.
“It’s good thing that the money keeps increasing and there is good news after World Cup in Russia the money increased and the next World Cup in Qatar, if it is successful, we can expect even further investment from FIFA,” he stated.
FIFA’s Director Member Associations Asia-Oceania Sanjeevan Balasingam said the main objective of the workshop was to ensure that all 11Member Associations from across Oceania have credible and long lasting infrastructure projects.
“They leave a legacy for football in the country and we do this by utilising FIFA funds so we have two million US dollars solely for projects and we need to emphasise that we need infrastructure,” said Balasingam.
Balasingam also stated the workshop is the way forward for the Oceania region to discuss ways in which FIFA can help assist Fiji, and other nations, in building proper pitches for football, stadiums and headquarters for the sport.
“Fiji has been very progressive when it comes to FIFA projects and apart from New Zealand we can see Fiji is the country that is really pushing football despite been a country dominated by rugby, just like New Zealand. The administrators and officials from Fiji FA are very progressive and proactive when it comes to developing football,”
“And we are here to showcase the work of Fijian football and that is why we choose Fiji as our host for this particular workshop,” Balasingam concluded.
The seminar was attended by six FIFA staff members including Auckland-based staff Ronen Hershco and David Firisua Jnr. They were joined by consultants Ben Veenbrink, Esther Jones Russel and Marke Jenning-Temple as well as FIFA’s Daniel Krebs.
Eight OFC Member Associations were present, with the two-day seminar covering topics from the basics of an infrastructure project and how to choose the project which is right for your situation, conducting a feasibility study, financial, technical and legal conditions as well as the maintenance of completed projects.