Samoa is the latest nation to benefit from FIFA’s Goal Progamme, with the opening of two facilities in the Pacific Island nation.
The inauguration of the projects – a Regional Technical Centre in Savai’i and a modern all-weather futsal court at the J.S. Blatter Complex in Tuanaimato – are unique as it is the first time the FIFA Development Office in Oceania has combined two projects into one funding programme.
Saturday saw the Savai’i Regional Technical Centre at Prince Edward Park in Iva opened. The island is one of Samoa’s two major landmasses (along with Upolu) and the importance of taking the game to the widest possible audience was a key message at the inauguration.
Oceania Football Confederation President and FIFA Vice-President David Chung was joined by national and local dignitaries, villagers, Football Federation Samoa executive committee members and staff as he unveiled the facilities funded through the FIFA Development Office. The site will act as the regional headquarters for the Football Federation Samoa (FFS) as they expand their activities to Samoa’s largest island.
The regional technical centre is made up of an office, conference room, accommodation, changing rooms, public toilets and a maintenance shed. The eight-acre area of land also includes a full-size international pitch, plus several smaller ones for youth games. “This is a day that will leave a legacy long into the future, particularly for the youth,” said Chung.
“The vision of OFC is to popularise football in the region and to encourage the grassroots and youth to participate in well-structured and purposeful activities. Of course, we encourage the identification and development of talent that will ultimately bring quality of playing performance and credibility to the sport, but also a wider profile and recognition in the country.
FIFA Development Officer Glenn Turner said it was rewarding to see this Goal project come to fruition, given the tangible difference it can make in a community like Savai’i.
Futsal first for Oceania
A day earlier, there was another milestone achievement with the official opening of a new outdoor, surfaced futsal court, the first of its kind in any Pacific Island nation.
“This futsal playing court is a unique project in the Oceania region that combines local construction contractors with the special playing surface supplied and installed by a company based in the United States of America,” said OFC President Chung. “And the end result is a magnificent facility.”
Chung said it was an honour to represent both FIFA and OFC and officially open a facility that will be of significant benefit in the development of young players as well as a fast, exciting addition for senior players, both men and women.
Chung also took the opportunity to applaud and express his sincere thanks to the FFS president and executive for their tremendous efforts and achievements over the past few years.
“For your endeavours we wish you all the best and confirm that the development programmes of FIFA and OFC will always be available to support and assist you,” he said. “However the ‘ownership’ must be accepted by the local football family.”
FFS expects to make good use of the new facility with plans underway to launch a futsal league, a business-house league and the FFS Centres of Development for boys and girls.
The court has been funded through the FIFA Development Office as a FIFA Goal IV Project, with the first three projects in the country comprising of the FFS fields, headquarters and floodlights respectively.