FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has helped ensure Oceania Football Confederation’s (OFC) ‘Football for Life’ charity matches will be remembered as a success.

‘Football for Life’ – arranged to raise funds for the Solomon Islands tsunami relief efforts in Western Province and Gizo – has received $50,000USD from FIFA to assist in the two matches between Fiji
and a New Zealand XI.

The tsunami that hit areas around Gizo in the Solomon Islands on the morning of 2 April 2007 literally sent shockwaves around the South Pacific. The disaster left more than 50 dead and thousands
homeless. Disaster relief and rehabilitation continues to the present time in the area.

To raise funds for disaster relief and rehabilitation in the area the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Football for Life matches between Fiji and a New Zealand XI provided a launch pad to help
raise money to rebuild schools and hospitals in Gizo.

OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said FIFA’s input into helping make the Fiji vs. New Zealand XI charity matches a success was crucial.

“FIFA’s decision to assist with this project was an essential element in not only making these games successful but it shows that the world governing body has the welfare and well-being of the
Oceania football family firmly in mind both on and off the field.

The power of football to make a difference in the lives of all people the world over has been expressed through this kind gesture by the FIFA President and FIFA itself and to that end OFC is
extremely grateful,” Nicholas said.

FIFA’s Football for Hope movement is the key element of a strategic alliance, led by FIFA in its capacity as world football’s governing body and streetfootballworld as the driving force behind a
global network of non-governmental organisations, developing projects on the ground, in which football is the common denominator.

The objective of the Football for Hope movement is to bring together, support, advise and strengthen sustainable social and human development programmes in the areas of peace promotion, children’s
rights & education, health promotion, anti-discrimination & social integration, and the environment.

FIFA Ambassador Christian Karembeu was in attendance with his wife Adriana Karembeu and was equally impressed with the efforts of both OFC and FIFA in helping raise funds for such a worthy

“Sometimes in life it is essential to help make a difference in the community in which you live.

FIFA and OFC has achieved this with these two matches and I am sure the funds raised will be put to effective use in the Solomon Islands and Vatukoula,” Karembeu said.

New Zealand XI won the first match in Suva 2-1 thanks to two spectacular goals from Craig Henderson and Sam Messam with Fiji’s Pita Rabo pulling a goal back with a sublime free kick 10 minutes from
the end.

Fiji got some measure of revenge edging out the visitor’s 1-0 in Lautoka thanks to a goal from the highly-rated teenage striker from Labasa, Roy Krishna.

The matches not only helped raise funds for the Solomon Islands tsunami relief fund but also gave Fiji some valuable preparatory matches ahead of the OFC Nations Cup/FIFA World Cup qualifying matches
that will take the form of the XIII South Pacific Games Men’s Football Tournament – Samoa 2007.

Coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti said it was a privilege and honour to be involved in raising funds for such a worthy cause but wished he had two further matches in which to assess his squad ahead of

“Of course I am delighted to help our many brothers and sisters across Oceania in this time of need, it is an honour for me and this team to play a part.

But I wish we had more games to prepare this team. You could see we are a little bit short of where we want to be,” Buzzetti said.

New Zealand XI coach Jonathan Gould was equally magnanimous in victory and defeat but said the two matches had provided valuable pitch time ahead of next year’s Olympic Games Men’s Football
tournament qualifiers scheduled for March 2008.

The XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007 begin on 25th August, 2007, when Solomon Islands meet American Samoa and Fiji play OFC associate members Tuvalu at J.S. Blatter Playing Field in Apia, Samoa,
kickoff 1500hrs local time.

Tahiti play French-speaking rivals New Caledonia in the evening at 1800hrs and Vanuatu meet host nation Samoa in the late kickoff at 2000hrs.