Top-tier futsal is set to return in Fiji this weekend with Suva’s refurbished FMF Gymnasium hosting the Vodafone Inter-District Championship (IDC) between August 21-23.
The tournament will feature eight teams who finished top of their local competitions.
Four sides including Rewa, Lami, Suva and Tailevu Naitasiri have qualified from the southern division, Tavua, Lautoka and Nadi from the west and Dreketi are the lone team from the northern district.
Defending champions Suva head Pool A, which includes Lautoka as well as competition debutants Dreketi and Lami.
Meanwhile, Nadi are joined by Tavua, Rewa and Tailevu Naitasiri in Group B.
With every team prepared by coaches who are in the process of securing their OFC Futsal C Licence, Fiji FA Futsal Development Officer Mira Sahib said he expected a high quality competition.
“This year’s IDC is something different and will be competitive and entertaining,” he said.
“The eight teams participating in the tournament are equally good and they all have prepared well for the championship.”
The former national representative was confident the fans would be treated to a thrilling spectacle throughout the three days.
“It will be an exciting competition for supporters who will get their money’s worth because every team selected the best players in their squad.”
OFC’s Acting Head of Football Development Paul Toohey was also convinced that this years’s competition would be a big step in the right direction.
“Mira and his team are doing an outstanding job to develop futsal,” Toohey said.
“They are working so hard to lift the profile of the game, and they are focusing on the right details – to improve the environment for the players, coaches, referees, fans and sponsors. And I’m very proud we have been able to assist Fiji FA through our futsal programmes.”
As the competition will be staged at an indoor venue, Fiji Football Association Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Yusuf stressed the importance for fans to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
“We request fans to please follow all the regulations imposed by the health ministry and the Government. We want everybody to comply with the rules to ensure the COVID-19 protocols are followed,” he said.
“We will make sure that the careFiji app will be sighted at the gate, no app no entry.”
The careFIJI app is Fiji’s COVID-19 tracing app.
Yusuf urged fans to work hand in hand with the organisers in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Those not complying will not be allowed into the venue,” he said.
“For those with no smartphones, they will need to produce a photo ID for all the details to be entered in the logbook.”
Dreketi and Lami will open Friday’s proceedings at 2pm before Tavua’s clash with Rewa match at 3.15pm.
Suva and Lautoka will face each other at 4.30pm followed by the official opening at 5.45pm.
The final match on the opening day will pair Tailevu Naitasiri and Nadi at 6.15pm.
Friday and Saturday’s round-robin matches will be followed by Sunday’s finals.
The winners of the Vodafone-sponsored tournament will receive FJD$3000 prize-money while the runners-up walk away with FJD$1500.