In recognising his tireless contribution to football in Oceania, a motion was passed by the 26th OFC Ordinary Congress on September 4 to make Glenn Turner an honourable member of OFC.
During a period spanning almost four decades, which also included 17 years as a FIFA Development Officer in the Pacific, Turner played a key role in the growth of the game in our region through player and coaching development and major infrastructure projects through the FIFA Goal Programme.
OFC President Lambert Maltock thanked Turner for his invaluable contribution to Oceania’s football landscape and congratulated him on behalf of the entire Congress.
In accepting his honourable membership, Turner expressed his affection for OFC and his gratitude for the recognition.
OFC Media caught up with the Englishman to find out about some of his career highlights and his hopes and vision for the future.
When did your association with OFC start and how did it come about?
My association with OFC commenced in late 1981 and developed from 1982 when I returned to New Zealand from the United Kingdom following a period of 14 years working as a teacher and physical educator in Norfolk.
In late 1981 I was appointed by the New Zealand Football Association as a regional coach with responsibilities for football development activities, including education courses in the Franklin and Auckland regions. It was during this time that I met with OFC Secretary Charles Dempsey who was elected OFC President in 1982.
Following a request by Dempsey in the same year, I undertook some voluntary development work for OFC that included assisting the management strategies for the current OFC Academy and basic coach education courses for delivery in the Member Associations (MAs).
Throughout your work in the Oceania region what do you consider as your main highlights and your biggest achievements?
It is true to say that every day provided new experiences and highlights while travelling the Oceania region. My work in the MAs allowed me to meet tremendous, committed people from a range of backgrounds and positions on a regular basis.
Of course the successful construction of 50-plus Goal infrastructure projects including football pitches with natural and artificial turf, administration headquarters, floodlights, stadium upgrades and residential academies have all been major achievements.
Highlights without doubt were the friendships and cooperation of the MAs in all the activities including the extensive FIFA and OFC education courses delivered to improve not only football-related programmes but also the capacity building of football’s governance and management aspects.
Other highlights over the years were witnessing the achievements of MAs in qualifying for various FIFA competitions including football World Cups at senior, U-20 and U-17 levels in both men’s and women’s football, as well as futsal, beach soccer and club World Cup championships.
To what extent has football evolved and developed in the Pacific during your time in the game?
The successful construction of 50-plus Goal infrastructure projects have played an instrumental part in helping the MAs to develop and grow football in their respective countries. The FIFA and OFC funding programmes, together with combined education programmes and activities, have without doubt increased the level of professionalism of the MAs both on and off the field.
What is your vision for the game in our region and what improvements and changes would you like to see in the future?
My vision for OFC concurs with the current vision and strategies recently outlined by OFC president Lambert Maltock at the OFC Congress. It would be great if a sustainable, professional OFC club competition could be introduced at some stage as my belief is that the region needs its own professional football and club structure.
Additionally, I would like to see greater media attention in all our countries with more local football having television coverage.
How much have the people and friendships you formed through football in the Pacific impacted on your life?
Hugely. There’s so many friends and I miss very much their daily impact on my life – who should I tell my stories to each day?
What role has OFC played in both your career and your personal life?
OFC was my second home and of course all the staff were more than just work colleagues. Obviously the position as FIFA Development Officer for 17 years also required integration with OFC and this was undertaken in a close and supportive relationship I always very much appreciated.
Just to mention a few of my long term colleagues, Patrick Jacquemet and Lyn Shirley who were outstanding in their work and commitment that contributed greatly to the achievements of our FIFA and OFC programmes.
What does honourable OFC membership mean to you?
I am extremely honoured and delighted and my hope is that as an honourable member OFC will involve me as a ‘volunteer’ on some kind of MA assistance programmes.