After taking a plunge last year and accepting the role of Cook Islands Football Association Technical Director, Jess Ibrom is gaining a deeper understanding about his unique responsibilities at the FIFA MA Technical Directors course in Auckland this week.

“I’m really learning the importance of the technical director role and the responsibilities, which has been very helpful for me,” he said.

“The course has given me a chance to make sure that we’re aligned not just with Oceania Football but FIFA as well. I’m getting a greater understanding of the influence that a technical director can have within their member association.”

Although Ibrom has been on the football scene in Oceania since 2012, establishing Wellington Phoenix’s first academy during his appointment as Head of Academy for the club, spending the past 10 months developing the game in the island nation has been a huge eye-opener for the former Wellingtonian.

“The Cook Islands is very different to other member associations. We’re the smallest so we have to think of ways that are very creative in terms of trying to close the gap between ourselves and other countries within the region,” he said.

“It’s interesting because if I look in comparison to Tahiti and the number of clubs that they have and the number of players participating – same with New Zealand – the Cook Islands is very different. We’ve got a very small population over a geographical range that is very spread out.”

Holding a UEFA A Licence and a USSF A Licence, Ibrom is well-qualified for the role, but with challenges that come with developing football in the Oceania region – and the logistical hiccups that come with working in a country isolated by Ocean – Ibrom has had to simplify his methods, return to the basics, and find new ways to develop the game.

“We’ve got to focus on where we are development-wise, what has previously taken place and what hasn’t,” he said.

“Our biggest focuses are coach education, performance, player development, women’s development, and referee development as well.

“We’re not looking at mass participation because of our small population as a country. We’re looking at the areas that we can actually make improvements in, but we’re looking at more creative ways to make sure those improvements take place, and not just in the short term – we’re making sure there’s a succession plan as well.”

With two days still remaining before the course concludes on Friday, Ibrom is bursting with ideas after collaborating with OFC, FIFA and his fellow directors, and looking forward to putting his new knowledge into action when he returns home.

“I feel like I’ve learnt a tremendous amount,” he said.

“We’re all going through different challenges within our own rights and within our respective member associations. We’ve also had some very well-educated people that have delivered the courses and there’s a number of areas that I’ve already seen that we can focus on to further develop our game.

“It’s all about taking action now because we’ve learnt a so much but there has to be actions beyond that.”