The President of the Bahamas Football Association, Anton Sealey, visited FIFA headquarters on Monday 14 July 2008 accompanied by his General Secretary Lionel Haven. While their visit was primarily to discuss their country's hosting of next year's FIFA Congress, the pair also took the opportunity to meet with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and grant an interview to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Mr Sealey, what are the reasons behind your visit to the Home of FIFA?
Anton Sealey: Our country has been chosen to host the FIFA Congress in 2009, which is a huge honour. We're here in Zurich for our first working meeting with the Congress' Organising Committee, who have explained to us what our role in this event will be. We've taken the opportunity to see President Blatter, with whom we had an informal chat about the state of the game in the Bahamas.
The road to South Africa 2010 has come to an end for your country, how does that feel?
From the Association's point of view, we're rather satisfied with our FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, even though we were knocked out. Our objective when we took the reins was to be able to compete at regional level, and I think that we're on the right track. It's true that we lost heavily against Jamaica, but it must be noted that we had a very young team with an average age of 21. Apart from three players, the entire squad came from our U-23 side. Our players are amateur footballers, while the Jamaicans are professionals - that's the difference. We were knocked out in the second round, but it wasn't very long ago that we'd never have expected to reach that stage.
And how can the Bahamas progress further?
We started discussions on how to unearth foreign-based players with Bahamanian roots to strengthen our national sides, just like other Caribbean teams have done. Besides, that's what our coaching staff asked us to do on the way back from Jamaica. The FIFA Congress in Sydney has been very useful in this respect because it has clarified the issue of player eligibility.
What obstacles are you finding in your path?
One of the biggest problems in small countries like ours which don't have a genuine football culture is getting funding. Yet the economic side of things is vital for helping national teams achieve consistent results at the highest level. And without consistent results, it's more difficult to attract supporters and therefore generate income. But we've got high hopes and we're working to strengthen our foundations, which should enable us to make progress on the international scene.