As part of Tuesday’s FIFA Development Committee meeting in Zurich, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and the President of the Guinean Football Association (FGF) Salifou Camara signed an agreement for the African country’s Goal II project, which envisages the construction of permanent headquarters for the FGF.

The project, which represents yet another example of FIFA’s ongoing efforts to develop the game, particularly among its most disadvantaged member associations, has been approved by the Development Committee and now awaits final approval from FIFA’s Executive Committee at the end of the week.

The FGF is currently renting a small, cramped premises to accommodate its staff. Thanks to funding from FIFA’s Goal Programme, however, and the proposed construction of the new headquarters, the Guinean FA can now push ahead with its development plans.

The complex will be built on a site provided by the Guinean authorities in the business district of Kaloum, in the centre of the capital city of Conakry. Construction is set to begin in the very near future, as Mr Camara, who was re-elected FGF President on 18 August last year, confirmed:

“It gives me great pleasure to sign this project agreement and I would like to thank FIFA and its President. I will do everything in my power to ensure that the construction process is a speedy one. Everything is in place here in Guinea, and the architect and contractor are just waiting for the green light.”

All but USD40,000 of the project’s USD540,000 budget will be provided by FIFA’s Goal Programme, with the remainder coming from FIFA’s Financial Assistance Programme (FAP). “This is a wonderful project. The volunteers who are working so hard to develop the game at the FA will now have first-class facilities to operate in,” added Mr Camara.

The centre didn’t have a pitch before and we’re going to have a latest-generation artificial one installed there now.

Salifou Camara of Guinea

This latest venture brings to 580 the number of Goal projects that have been approved by FIFA since the launch of the programme in 1999, in which a total of USD274m has so far been invested.  “Guinea was one of the very first countries to have a Goal project (approved in 2000),” continued Mr Camara, recapping the support the FGF has had through the FIFA programme.

“I was in charge then, and we were going to build the headquarters. We even laid the first stone, right on the spot where this current project will be built. I had to leave the post shortly afterwards, however, and the Goal I project eventually became a training centre, which was approved in 2002.”

That training centre has since been upgraded, as Mr Camara went on to explain: “The centre didn’t have a pitch before and we’re going to have a latest-generation artificial one installed there now. Obviously that’s going to be essential to the development of the game here.”

The installation of the new pitch follows last December’s approval by FIFA’s Executive Committee of a USD60m budget set aside in the main for FIFA’s least affluent member associations and responding to their needs through the following programmes: governance and institutional support; the creation and diversification of revenue streams; national player registration and competition management systems; and development, infrastructures and equipment.

This last programme, which aims to help member associations “promote the game in their countries”, is restricted to a limited number of beneficiaries in need, among them Guinea. The support it provides is allocated on the basis of indicators such as member associations’ FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, their GDP per capita and sports policies implemented in each country.

These projects all aim to promote youth competitions, improve infrastructures and provide the resources needed to develop the game at grassroots level.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that infrastructures alone are not enough to ensure the continued development of the game. It is for that reason that a FIFA delegation travelled to Conakry at the start of March to draw up a plan of action for 2012, with a club administration course being set up for July.

“That will provide a starting point for a series of activities designed to strengthen the championship and the FA as a whole,” concluded a smiling Mr Camara.