Regional football goal
For the first time in the history of football, there is an alignment of the leadership in the region between FIFA, CONCACAF the CFU, and even The Unión Centroamericana de Fútbol (UNCAF) in Central America.
So says CONCACAF’s chief Victor Montagliani, who was fielding questions during a press conference following the inauguration of FIFA’s regional office at Welches, Christ Church.
“There is an alignment and leadership and understanding that there are areas that each of us has to focus on, so we can then not be stepping over our toes, but servicing the membership where it needs to be,” he said.
One of those areas he said was youth football, which he said was specific to a strategic plan led by CFU’s chief and Barbados Football Association president Randy Harris.
“There are age groups where the Caribbean Football Union would be focusing on as we move forward; that’s an alignment with a strategic plan that they’re going to involve over the next year or so, which would also fall in line with CONCACAF’s One CONCACAF Vision. That would then have symmetry with respect to programmes, so that, for instance, in areas where the federation can’t get to, we have to align them from a strategic standpoint and nobody is being left out,” he disclosed.
While he noted some of the groundwork was not the sexiest, he said everybody liked the age groups that were going to the World Cups, but there was more work that needed to be done so teams could be prepared when it came time to compete.
Similarly FIFA’s regional office manager Marlon Glean said the office was there to lend support in terms of development for all the member associations (MA).
“Under the FIFA Forward programme, the onus is on the MA’s within the region to come up with creative projects as it relates to youth and women football development.
Support and guidance
They can create, they can come up with assistance development programmes for grass roots and for female football, and we will provide the support and guidance as to how they go about doing the applications and how they can access the funding,” he explained.
Additionally, he said through FIFA’s general secretary Fatma Samoura and director of member associations and development, Veron Mosengo-Omba, they were able to meet with CARICOM to discuss a regional schools’ championship.
“We have an MOU that we’ve been working on, so that in every primary school, in every corner of CARICOM, there would be a football championship supported by FIFA that would tie in later to the CONCACAF Under- 14 championships and the CFU and CONCACAF Under-15,” he said, adding that they were creating an “extra layer so kids could play competitively at a younger age”.
He noted that while the office had been operational since September last year, they had visited the majority of the MA’s, and were working toward rectifying numerous issues.
“I think some of the challenges we’ve had is infrastructure. President Harris just mentioned he has a new facility. What we’ve seen in the region is a number of MA’s do not own their own facility, so they’re struggling.
“In addition there is a lack of quality coaching. CONCACAF has been doing some work with regards to some of the licences, but FIFA has also been providing funding for capacity building. This is so all of the potential coaches across the region can be trained to a level where they can administer football to the young people across the region,” he said. (RA)