Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and New Zealand Football have welcomed the news that FIFA will commit a further USD $300,000 to the rebuilding efforts in Christchurch.
The solidarity grant, which was approved by FIFA’s Finance Committee after a proposal from OFC President David Chung in Zurich, is set to be used for renovating, restoring and constructing football facilities within the earthquake-affected city.
The grant will add to the hardship fund of over NZD $140,000 established by Mainland Football Federation in June with donations and grants from Mainland, New Zealand Football, OFC and the Japanese Football Association.
It also follows on from the FIFA Goal project to transform what was formerly English Park into a new state-of-the-art all weather turf, which officially opened last month. ASB Football Park – now the home of Mainland Football – was made possible through the FIFA grant of NZD $535,000 as well as a significant investment of NZD $1.065 million from the Christchurch City Council.
President Chung says he is delighted to see the continuing commitment from football’s international governing body. “The rebuilding process is a long road for the people of Christchurch who continue to display unwavering resilience in the face of adversity,” said President Chung.
“FIFA has shown its support by helping to fund the new-look ASB Football Park – one of the first major construction projects to be completed in Christchurch – and is now backing that up with a USD $300,000 grant to continue developing facilities. It is a welcome injection for the football community in Christchurch.”
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter is pleased to announce the new funding. "On behalf of FIFA, I would like to send my best wishes to the people of Canterbury," said President Blatter.
"We have been working closely with OFC and New Zealand Football to identify the needs of the community following these devastating earthquakes. I am honoured and delighted to confirm the new funding and trust that it will be used effectively to show once again how football can help bring people together thanks to the fair play and friendship that it promotes."
The show of generosity also won plaudits from New Zealand Football Chairman Frank van Hattum. “FIFA's steadfast commitment to development, and the knowledge that they stand ready to support Christchurch, is further testament to the huge difference a major sporting body can make to communities,” van Hattum said.
Mainland Football Chairman Mark Stewart says the grant will help significantly in the rebuilding of facilities that were damaged by the earthquakes in February and last September. “Football in Canterbury was hit hard, with the damage to 40 or so grounds leading to over 1500 players missing out on football this past season,” said Stewart.
“The opening of the FIFA Goal Project at ASB Football Park will go a long way to getting those players back into football and this latest gesture will have a huge impact at key football facilities all around the Canterbury region.”
The fund will be administered by the New Zealand Football Foundation with Mainland Football handling grant applications.