When you open with a quote from everyone’s favourite Rastafarian footballer Bob Marley, you are assured to have the attention of the room.
Which is exactly what David Sabir, General Secretary of the Bermuda Football Association did during the FIFA/OFC Club Licensing Seminar in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday.
“Bob Marley has a saying, ‘Liven Up Yourself’. And I’m going to do that today because there’s no rule that people in administration have to be boring,” he said.
Sabir has extensive knowledge and experience in the administration of leagues and cup competitions, programme development, development of policy, rules and regulations, international events management and the
management and administration of an association.
It was exactly this background, and the successful implementation of the club licensing system in the Bermuda, which brought him to Oceania.
There are a lot of similarities between Bermuda and the Member Associations which make up the Oceania Football Confederation, and Sabir has a strong view on how being small isn’t necessarily a negative.
“We don’t think of ourselves as a small nation,” he explained, “meaning that we can’t achieve just because of our size.
“Football is universal, football is played by big nations and small nations, but the rules are the same.
“That’s the beauty of it, the same rules apply every year, everywhere in the world,” Sabir continued.
“What we have to do is be the best that we can be, with the resources that are available inside our island as well as externally.
“With FIFA, with CONCACAF and our colleagues in other MAs who are doing fantastic things that we can learn from, we’ve just decided that we’re not going to limit ourselves just because we are a small nation.
“Think big and you will have performances which are beyond your wildest dreams, and that’s what we aim for.”
For some of the OFC’s Member Associations which, like Bermuda, have small populations, hearing Sabir speak was hugely encouraging.
Vanuatu Football Federation CEO Albert Manaroto said Sabir’s presentation was inspiring and gave him plenty of food for thought.
“I think he had a lot of good things to say and it was good to hear from someone who comes from an MA that has similar challenges to us here in Oceania, but which has found ways to overcome or break them down,” Manaroto said.
It was similar for Cook Islands Football Association Competitions Manager Pauline Dean, who found Sabir’s delivery engaging.
“Club Licensing is an interesting topic, especially for me as a competitions manager. It relates to how we can improve our competitions and the clubs involved in them.
“David put it in a way we can understand it easily and he was also incredibly inspiring. It is definitely encouraging for us and the future of football development in the Cook Islands hearing how Bermuda has managed to implement this system successfully.”
Sabir said club licensing isn’t difficult to implement, far from it in fact.
“We’re kind of sophisticated in that we’ve had a number of things club licensing speaks to, already implemented decades ago in our country. We have the founding fathers of our association to thank for having the foresight to establish a lot of key areas that are important to operating or managing club licensing,” he said.
“Here, we are talking about how to do what we do, better. About empowering clubs to do more with less, and do it more effectively than what they’re doing now.”
While the implementation of club licensing seems daunting, OFC Member Associations can be comfortable in the knowledge that Sabir is open to future collaboration with all of them.
“How is football played? It’s a ball passed between players. So let’s take that off the field to administration. We can pass the proverbial ball, meaning information, from one MA to another MA, from one person to another person,” he said.
“At the end of the day what that means is the team of administrators across the board, across MAs, across the world, gets better and better.
“Why? Because we’re sharing our football.”