OFC/CIFA/FIFA – 31 March 2004: The Cook Island Football Association (CIFA) is in the midst of final preparations towards the realization of a significant milestone in the history of football in the idyllic pacific island nation.
Since selection by FIFA to benefit from the Goal programme, the association identified an ambitious project for the construction of the CIFA national headquarters and academy – truly a “house of football” that would contribute to the significantly to the development of football in the country.
At the time of the `ground-breaking’ ceremony in April 2003, the CIFA President, Mr. Lee Harmon commented with some emotion that “the Goal project was a dream for the Cook Islands Football Association and thanked FIFA for such a wonderful development programme”.
Construction of the CIFA national headquarters and academy commenced in June 2003 at the picturesque site at Matavera on the main island of Rarotonga. Two natural turf playing fields were also formed as part of the overall project with one playing pitch constructed to a `state of the art’ international standard with underground irrigation, sand carpeted and fully drained.
And now the eagerly anticipated day for the inauguration is only a few days away – to be held on Friday 2nd April 2004. President Lee Harmon is moved once again as the historic occasion approaches mentioning that, “at the time of the ground-breaking ceremony it was just a dream and now after a tremendous effort by everyone – the dream is now a reality”. He expressed sincere thanks to the construction team led by Vuksich & Borich (NZ Ltd) that also included a number of local contractors including Land Holdings (for buildings) and T M Heather (for civil works) for the high quality of the project works. The President acknowledged the outstanding support of FIFA and also to Oceania Football for their financial contribution under the Infrastructure Grants Program.
Overseas representatives of the football family will be VIP guests at the inauguration celebrations including the FIFA President, Mr. J S Blatter’s representative, the Honourable Reynald Temarii who was recently elected as President of the Oceania Football Confederation, Mr Johnny Tinsley Lulu (OFC executive member and President, Vanuatu Football Federation), and Mr. Tai Nicholas (Acting OFC General Secretary). The Cook Islands Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Robert Woonton will attend the inauguration and make a `keynote’ address during the official speeches. Also confirmed to attend the event is the Queen’s representative, His Excellency Mr. Fredrick Goodwin. Many other local dignitaries, members of the local football family, supporters and sponsors will also be guests of CIFA for the historic occasion.
The Cook Islands Football Association has arranged an excellent programme of events for the occasion that includes speeches, cultural performances, youth football activities and the unveiling
of the FIFA Goal plaque to mark the official opening of the Cook Islands Football Association national headquarters and academy.