The Fiji Football Association (FFA) are kickstarting their football development calendar with the launch of their McDonalds Grassroots and Youth Leagues which will run between February and November.
The league’s competition structure marks the implementation of another phase, to have a complete pathway for children from grassroots level through to senior football better preparing them for OFC competitions.
Over 2,900 boys and girls from 10 districts across the Western, Southern and Northern regions of Fiji will compete in the U-9, U-11, U-13 mixed grades before splitting into two separate teams (boys and girls) in the U-15 age grade.
The districts include Ba, Lautoka, Nadi, Nadroga, Navua, Suva, Rewa, Labasa, Seaqaqa and Dreketi.
FFA Technical Director Timo Jankowski said the format of the leagues was purposely done to make football accessible for everyone.
“While the league games have an attractive age specific format, we also want to introduce the Skills Challenge throughout this period to inspire players to work on their football skills in their free time,” Jankowski said.
“We’ve provided these opportunities for our youngest footballers in Fiji and the outcome we would like to see is enjoyment in a fun and safe environment.”
OFC Football Development Officer Phill Parker believes this is the way forward for the future of football in Fiji if long term international success is a consideration and motivator.
“Every child should be able to access football at whatever level they want and as early as possible. If a skills challenge inspires a relationship with the ball, football festivals ignite a spark of interest,” Parker said.
“Development centres are widely considered learning environments then competition at any level is an essential ingredient to the long term player development philosophy of OFC.
“Providing there is an opportunity and a competition mechanism in place for those with a growing ambition and dreams of representing their community, village, district or country then this leagues structure complements Totolo Futupolo and the FFA player pathway.
“This signals a very exciting prospect for years to come.”