Fiji was among the founding members of OFC along with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The nation of around 880,000 people has traditionally been one of Oceania’s best performers and the Fiji Football Association (FFA) nurtures hopes of one day being OFC Nations Cup champions.
Football has a huge following in Fiji but competes with rugby and rugby league.
Futsal has also grown in popularity in Fiji and since 2017, with the assistance of the FIFA Forward Development Programme, the FFA have continued to invest in this discipline.
The main focus is on youth development and providing young athletes with the opportunity to take part in futsal as a way to improve their overall football ability.
The FFA’s ambitious plan involves upskilling coaches who will deliver grassroots training programmes as part of a wider strategic plan.
FFA President Rajesh Patel and General Secretary Bob Kumar have channelled that enthusiasm to also continue developing football at all levels. Patel was elected to the FIFA Council in 2019.
Fiji regularly holds coach education and referee courses to upskill locals involved in the game.
Most of these are staged at the National Football Academy in Ba which was completed in 2003 through the FIFA Goal Programme.
The large complex includes football pitches as well as accommodation and training facilities for players and course participants.
Another important step in the development of Fiji football took place in June 2012 when FFA moved in to its new National Headquarters and Regional Technical Centre in Suva.
Fiji FA successfully hosted major Oceania events when they delivered the OFC U-20 Men’s Championship 2013, and the OFC U-20 Men’s Championship and the OFC Champions League in 2014. They also hosted the OFC Futsal Nations Cup in 2016.
Fiji enjoyed a unique milestone in its history when their U-20 men’s team won the OFC U-19 Championship to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015. This marked the first time a Fijian international side made it to the final stages of a FIFA event at any level.
They went on to cause one of the upsets of the tournament when they beat Honduras 3-0 in pool play but were unable to advance to the knockout stages.
On the professional scene, striker Roy Krishna has flown the Fijian flag with aplomb given his goal-scoring exploits in the A-League with the Wellington Phoenix and more recently with ATK in the Indian Super League.