There are many ways in which FIFA supports the development of its Member Associations. And provided that the resources are put to good use by the recipients, this support can bring just as many benefits.
A case in point is provided by the Dominican Football Association (FEDOFUTBOL), which has submitted a number of projects to FIFA’s Development Department in recent years. Thanks to the subsequent support the national FA has received, it has been able to develop the game right across the Dominican Republic.
That growth is reflected in FEDOFUTBOL’s infrastructures, in the creation of a professional league, and in the training given to the coaches overseeing grassroots football in the country, all of which represents a much-needed overhaul at every stage in what is a virtuous circle of development.
“The aim is to build a solid platform for Dominican football as a whole,” said FEDOFUTBOL Technical Director Ramon Sanchez. “If we don’t get boys and girls playing grassroots football, then we’ll be short of players in the future. At the same time, we also want a solid framework for the future, with qualified coaches adopting a consistent methodology at a national level. And it goes without saying that both children and professionals need access to proper infrastructures in order to develop.”
The national FA took a big step towards that objective in 2001, when its training complex in San Cristobal, just outside the capital Santo Domingo, got the go-ahead.
“This centre has become the heart and soul of Dominican football development,” explained FEDOFUTBOL Development Coordinator Carlos Ramirez. “Not only do the national teams train here, but it’s also where coaches from all over the country are trained and developed.”
The complex features pitches, accommodation facilities, a medical centre and, since 2012, a futsal arena. Two years later, FEDOFUTBOL expanded its network of regional youth football academies across the country. Then, in 2015, and with FIFA’s assistance, which included training and technical advice, a longstanding need was finally met with the creation of the Liga Dominicana de Fútbol, the country’s very own professional national league.
Featuring ten teams from seven cities and broadcast on national TV, the inaugural season proved a success, with Club Atletico Pantoja emerging champions as another crucial step was taken in the development and growth of football in the Dominican Republic.
In a country in which baseball is still king but where football is gaining in popularity, the key to continued development is clear: if the conditions are right, more and more youngsters will take up football and standards will rise across the board. It is question not only of investing, but of investing wisely.