First Tsunami Memorial Centre opens
© FIFA.com

Over 100 children, many of whom lost their parents in the 2004 Tsunami were today the special guests as a new football facility was opened by the FIFA President and FIFA Executive Committee Member and President of the Thailand FA, Dato Worawi Makudi.

The Tsunami Memorial Football Centre in Phuket on the west coast of Thailand was the first project to be inaugurated from a joint FIFA/Asian Football Confederation fund set up in the wake of the tragedy which caused widespread destruction along the coasts bordering the Indian Ocean.

The undersea earthquake on 26 December 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in 11 countries. Nearly 5,400 people were confirmed dead in Thailand, whilst another 3,000 were estimated to have lost their lives in the country.

With a facility like this, we can help make the lives of these children a bit better and give them hope after what they've experienced, through the game of football.
Joseph S. Blatter

By April 2005, under the chairmanship of FIFA Executive Committee member and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam, the FIFA/AFC Tsunami Task Force had made an initial payment amounting to USD 7.6 million to the associations affected by the tragedy, with a further 2.8million committed by the summer of 2005.

The Tsunami Memorial Football Centre in Phuket received USD 950,000 towards the construction of a clubhouse, accommodation block for 100 players and the construction of a multipurpose hall and training facilities and today.

Speaking in front of the clubhouse this morning, President Blatter told the assembled guests, including Mr Paiboon Upattising, Chairman of the Phuket Local Administration: "I often speak about how football can be used as a tool for social change, or express solidarity and hope.

"I first visited this site three years ago and I am very, very proud to see what is now available for these children. With a facility like this, we can help make the lives of these children a bit better and give them hope after what they've experienced, through the game of football."

After the visit, Blatter will travel this afternoon to Bangkok where he will meet the Prime Minister of Thailand this evening to discuss a new grassroots football initiative, before tomorrow opening a Goal project at the National Training Centre in Bangkok.