OFC Home of Football new building shoot, Ngahue, Auckland. Friday 19th November 2021. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

The idea of a confederation for the Pacific was first raised in 1964 when the football world was in Tokyo for the Olympic Games. Three gentlemen discussed the idea and they put in motion the formation of what was to become the OFC. Their names were Sir Stanley Rous, then president of FIFA, Jim Bayutti from the Australian Soccer Federation and Sid Guppy, chairman of the New Zealand Football Association.

The discussion came about after a decision by the Asian Football Confederation, which had only been formed ten years previously, not to accept either Australia or New Zealand for membership. This laid the groundwork and gave the impetus for those crucial discussions in Tokyo.

Inaugural Congress

OFC’s first-ever congress was held in 1968 and the delegates – responding to the proposal by both Australia and New Zealand – agreed that Sir William Walkley and Ian McAndrew be appointed chairman and secretary/treasurer respectively. Both were from Australia. Sir William’s fine opening remarks at the 1968 congress called on “all nations (to) work together for the development of football in the South Pacific”.

Charles J. Dempsey, CBE, 1921-2008

Charles “Charlie” Dempsey is considered the ‘Father of OFC’ having played a key role in establishing the Confederation and continuing on in various leadership roles. After the initial discussions in Tokyo, Dempsey was approached by the NZFA to work with Jim Bayutti to put together the necessary founding documents and garner support across the world in the hope they would receive a favourable reception at the next FIFA Congress two years later.

And so it was in 1966, that FIFA formally approved the proposal and the Oceania Football Confederation was officially born. The founding members included Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. New Caledonia were also very involved in the process but could only be provisional members since the territory did not have sports autonomy from France at the time.

Since its formation in 1966 Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) has hosted competitions throughout the Pacific region at both international and club level, for both men’s and women’s teams, and across all age grades. The premier international men’s competition, the OFC Men’s Nations Cup was first held in 1973 with the OFC Women’s Nations Cup first contested in 1983.