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Youth tournament helping “paint the bigger picture”

It’s 100 per cent normal to be following the results of the OFC Youth Development Tournament 2019 closely.

However, OFC Head of Education and Development Giovani Fernandes said win or lose, what teams take away from the competition both on and off the field, is what will count in the long-term.

“Following the approval of the OFC Football Development Strategy 2026 we’ve been able to establish a clear intent of what we want to achieve not only in terms of coach education but, as it relates to player development, OFC Competitions and the whole portfolio,” Fernandes outlined.

“We can also analyse where we are at the moment, and with this understanding of where we are, it enables us to get an understanding of the gap and the things we need to do in order to get to our goal in 2026.

“The OFC Youth Development Tournament is one of the key milestones that will enable us to bridge that gap.”

This tournament provides the perfect backdrop for the OFC Football Development department to share its strategy with a wider audience. In particular, immediate stakeholders like the participating players and coaches.

“The workshop we are running alongside the tournament itself is a great opportunity to enhance the message of what we’re trying to achieve,” Fernandes explained.

“We’ll cover the OFC Strategy, painting the bigger picture, we will then relate to how this tournament impacts on the strategy and will identify they key topics we will cover with the coaches in order to bridge this gap.”

Fernandes said UEFA’s expertise will see them take the lead on this aspect of the tournament, with consultant Roger Meichtry having travelled from Europe to Vanuatu to provide his expertise.

“It’s very exciting to have this opportunity to work in other continents, especially for the players and coaches,” he said.

“I think sharing knowledge, having a different experience and the social aspect are all very important and I’m looking forward to getting involved.” Meichtry said.

For Fernandes, each part of the event – the competitive environment, the knowledge exchanges, the inter-confederation relationship building – will contribute to the overall objectives of the OFC Football Development Strategy 2026.

“The bigger picture we talk about relates to the 2026 vision of having two OFC nations qualify for the FIFA World Cup. We want to leave a legacy which will see OFC Member Associations being competitive in OFC and FIFA competitions.

“But that is in 2026.

“Our biggest goal right now is to get the message across to all our stakeholders that there is a process involved in achieving this objective, and this event is one of the milestones along the pathway being put in place.

“There is no expectation for OFC teams to win against AFC or UEFA teams. Our expectation is that coaches will enable the players to express themselves, and through this process we will identify areas of improvement and work on them so the players peak when it counts, which is to say during international tournaments.”

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