Solidarity and the best interests of Oceania is what Rajesh Patel campaigned on, and it is what got him across the line when it came to choosing a new OFC member for the FIFA Council.
The Fiji Football Association President will join OFC President Lambert Maltock and New Zealand Football vice-president Johanna Wood on the FIFA Council for the next four-year term – an honour Patel believes is recognition of his long-standing service and passion for the game.
“Football is a passion and I’ve given so many years into it, it’s good my colleagues have recognised that and sent me in to get a lot of good things for Oceania, that’s what I’d like to do,” Patel shared.
The former OFC vice-president has been involved in many aspects of football as a player in India, to a water boy back in Fiji, before he headed into the administrative side of the game with roles at club, district and federation level.
“In the ‘70s I played for my district and then in the ‘80s and ‘90s I became the youngest manager of Ba football team. I became president of Ba football club, vice-president of Fiji FA and then President. Here in Oceania I was an executive member and then became a vice-president and I’ve been sitting on the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.”
Patel is adamant that although he was and is committed to his federation, his overall commitment is the betterment of Oceania.
“You have to look at Oceania as a big family. It is Ocean’s 11, solidarity. I’m not going in to the FIFA Council just for Fiji. We want the whole family to be promoted and grow and this will only strengthen and show FIFA that Oceania is a really strong confederation, and that is what I want to go and represent.”