Gianni Infantino impressed by Belize's use of the FIFA Forward Programme
Praises state of the art pitches and modern infrastructure at FFB training centre
Speaks of the importance of talent development
Gianni Infantino has finished his tour of Central America by visiting Belize where he congratulated the country's football association for the way it has used the FIFA Forward Programme to develop football.
"A few years ago, a few of us, including Belize, believed in what we could do with football and football development, and not only did Belize believe, but Belize implemented the Forward programme and now has top infrastructure in place," said the FIFA President. "You can really feel football here."
The FIFA President was welcomed by Sergio Chuc, the President of the Football Federation of Belize (FFB), and also met the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, Cordel Hyde. He was then given a tour of the FFB headquarters and training centre at Belmopan, built with help of FIFA Forward, and shown the plans for its future development. Gianni Infantino praised the work, describing the pitches as "state of the art."
The FIFA delegation included Chief Development Officer Arsene Wenger and Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of FIFA's Referee Committee. "Belize has an important refereeing system in place, and being a referee is part of the education of children, and every child who plays football should try to referee to see how difficult it is," said Gianni Infantino.
The delegation also attended an event linked to Football For Schools with dozens of local children. Earlier this month, the FFB became the latest Member Association to adopt the project that aims to reach thousands of young boys and girls by using football as a social development tool within the school curriculum of the countries that implement it.
"You have come here to see for yourselves to see how we are investing the FIFA Forward funds, I am happy you like what you have seen," said Sergio Chuc, the FFB President. "You mentioned Football For Schools. FIFA has 211 members and Belize is country number 14 that is taking advantage of the FIFA Football For Schools. We have been working with the Ministry of Education and it is integrated into the Primary School curriculum.”
"We will continue applying for funds because these kids are the future of Belize, and I am depending on them to represent us well."
The FIFA President then met the Governor-General of Belize, Dame Froyla Tzalam. He said it was important to meet government figures "to discuss the role that football plays in society, and we have witnessed the fantastic work down by the federation."
Gianni Infantino added that football development included the technical development of children, girls and boys alike.
"We are here to make sure every talent in this beautiful country has a chance to become a top professional player, women or men, or at least to become a better citizen, because part of what we do is also linked with education," he said.
The FFB, founded in 1980, is the youngest football federation in Central America, having joined Concacaf and FIFA in 1986.