The OFC Executive Committee has held its final meeting for 2020, wrapping up a year unlike any other in the Oceania Football Confederation’s 54-year history.
Although 2020 has been forgettable for many reasons, OFC believes many positives have resulted from a year of uncertainty and unprecedented disruption.
The Executive Committee voted to elect a third OFC Vice-President to see out the current term after New Caledonia representative Steeve Laigle was replaced as Federation Caledonienne de Football President earlier this month.
Taking his place is Tonga Football Association President Lord Ve’ehala, who joins Thierry Ariiotima of Tahiti and John Kapi Natto of PNG as the third OFC Vice-President.
Ve’ehala first became involved in football development in 1995 and his re-election as President of the Tonga Football Association in May 2019 made him the longest-serving President in the association’s history.
In addition to looking ahead to 2021 and the new and exciting opportunities it will bring for OFC and its Member Associations, the meeting was an opportunity to reflect on 2020 and the achievements made, despite the challenges.
OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said remaining optimistic and adaptable has allowed the organisation to remain on-track to achieve the majority of the strategic objectives it set for 2020.
“The cancellation or postponement of so many competitions was difficult for the organisation, but it allowed us to take a step back from the frenetic pace of back-to-back events and focus on strengthening the foundations the Confederation is built upon,” Castillo said.
“One of the highlights for us as a regional governing body, has been the speed and efficacy of the support we have been able to offer our Member Associations and their communities during a period of huge uncertainty for so many.
“The OFC Solidarity Fund has eased the burden on communities across Oceania as natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic have increased the difficulties they have faced, and we are proud we have been able to make that possible.”
Social Responsibility was an area where ‘business as usual’ was not possible but a business continuity plan was successfully implemented across Oceania ensuring the delivery of alternative activities reached an estimated 20,000 children.
Adjusting the way it provides assistance to its members has allowed the Confederation to bring non-competition related activities to the fore, including adapting the strategic framework of the organisation, focusing on capacity building and updating the OFC Development Programme.
The majority of courses and trainings have been delivered in an online capacity, highlighting the ability of staff to adapt to change while continuing to deliver high-quality programmes.
“We have reshaped the OFC Development Grant into the OFC Development Programme, which focuses on supporting our Member Associations in developing their strategies and operational plans, and providing tailor-made expertise and funding,” Castillo said.
“We’ve also been able to offer online training and capacity building workshops, delivering 300 sessions over the course of the year, ensuring football development continues in-country despite the regional effects of the pandemic.”
Within Football Development, further achievements include the growing number of Development Officers across the region, including in women’s football, coach education and high performance roles. The groundwork is also being laid for national academies to launch in Fiji, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and New Zealand.
With the strategic objective of having two competitive teams qualify for the 2026 and 2027 FIFA World Cups, ensuring the development objectives continue to be met in-country is important.