A boost for more sustainable and accessible modern football infrastructures in Asia

  • 16 member associations from the AFC region gathered in Thimphu, the iconic capital city of Bhutan, to attend the latest FIFA Forward infrastructure workshop

  • Representatives from the FIFA Forward programme and from two different FIFA Regional offices were present to support the attending MAs

  • With a focus on the FIFA Forward infrastructure strategies, the meeting allowed the participants to learn more about sustainable and durable facilities

Recently, a FIFA delegation representing the member associations (MA) division paid a visit to the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) to host a meeting with several Member Associations originating from the AFC region – among them were represented the football associations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Guam, India, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Hosted in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan located at an altitude of over 2,334 metres, the gathering included presentations and insightful case studies from attending member associations, allowed the MAs to get more familiar with the work achieved throughout the support of the FIFA Forward programme and along with the major infrastructure development milestones carried out so far.

Warmly welcomed by Ugyen Wangchuk, the General Secretary of the BFF, and his Excellency Lyonpo (Dr.) Tandi Dorij, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the FIFA delegation was pleased and grateful to meet with their counterparts in this fascinating Himalayan territory, famous for its Gross National Happiness Index.

An innovative digital platform was introduced to the participants to allow them to contribute to the debate by asking their anonymous queries during the presentations. The new technical tool is nowadays commonly used in events, conferences and meetings to ease the audience interactions and helps stakeholders to raise issues that would probably not be mentioned otherwise.

Some member associations’ representatives shared that they were particularly satisfied by the artificial turf pitches presentations provided by the experts invited for the occasion. Thanks to the consultants’ expertise and knowledge about the region acquired from previous FIFA missions, they were able to answer all the questions the participants might have about football turf and natural grass pitches.

During the two-day workshop, the stakeholders were also introduced to modules regarding playing surfaces such as Futsal and Beach Soccer. Additionally, optimal ways to build stadiums, technical centres, headquarters and venue-specific installations were fully displayed and highlighted, always keeping in mind that sustainability and accessibility must remain paramount elements throughout the process.

The delegation’s activities also included a visit to a local national stadium and to a nearby Buddhist monument. At the end of the two day-workshop, the MAs' representatives expressed their appreciation and gratefulness to the FIFA team. Some of them shared that they are already looking forward to the next steps and refresher courses.

A few words from our MAs “We were honoured to have the opportunity to host such a workshop. Infrastructure is a top priority for the Bhutan Football Federation. Under the first cycle of the Forward Programme, we have been constructing four football turf pitches as well as two academies, one for boys and one for girls. We are hopeful this will encourage more players to join us.” Ugyen Wangchuk, General Secretary, Bhutan Football Federation

“It was an extensive two-day workshop where we learned everything from start to the end. Thanks to the planning and expert knowledge regarding maintenance, we learned how to leave a legacy.” Andrea Laurel, Project Coordinator, Philippine Football Federation

“This has been a key workshop for us as we are doing many infrastructure projects under the FIFA Forward Programme. This year, we have completed the first phase of our new technical centre with the installation of a football turf pitch and floodlights. Another football turf pitch is currently under construction. Later this year we will submit two new infrastructure project applications to the FIFA administration.” Mongoljingoo Sodgerel, Head of International Relations, Mongolia Football Federation

“It was extremely informative and an excellent initiative by FIFA. As FIFA is actively investing into infrastructure in their 211 MAs, it is important to guide them and to show that there should be a thought process, strategy, best practice and sustainability when implementing these projects. I hope that there will be refresher courses in the near future.” Roma Khanna, Director Special Projects & Infrastructure, All India Football Federation