Fi­jian Foot­ball - Time to lift game, em­brace change

Fiji Sun - - Comment - LEONE CABENATABUA Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

Af­ter high ex­pec­ta­tions, the Voda­fone Nadi and Suva foot­ball teams have lost their open­ing matches of the Ocea­nia Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion’s Champions League in Auckland, New Zealand. In a shock­ing re­sult, AS Te­fana wal­loped the highly fan­cied Nadi side 6-1 while Suva gave last year’s los­ing fi­nal­ists Team Welling­ton a tough time be­fore bow­ing out 2-0 on Satur­day. The Gur­jit Singh-coached side gave the game away in the fi­nal quar­ter when they al­lowed the much more pro­fes­sional Welling­ton side to slot in their goals through striker Ben Harris. With dam­ages done, the ques­tion that we need to ask is how are we go­ing to lift our game and make an im­pact in the Champions League? Def­i­nitely we don’t want our cham­pion teams like Nadi and Suva to go there just to make the num­bers. We all want them to win.

Maybe, this is a chal­lenge that could be di­rected to our dis­trict of­fi­cials who are now busily work­ing with their teams as they gun for the two top spots in this year’s Voda­fone Premier League com­pe­ti­tion. For a team to qual­ify for next year’s Champions League, they must at­tain one of the two top spots.

For our dis­trict of­fi­cials, the onus is on them to lift their game and take a more pro­fes­sional ap­proach. Gone are the days, where they are only fo­cused on the lo­cal com­pe­ti­tions.

In to­day’s foot­ball world it’s all about mov­ing to the next level. And for that to hap­pen they must now think out­side of the box. This is be­cause to build a cham­pion foot­ball team means you must have the money to do it. These of­fi­cials have to cre­ate money stream av­enues rather than re­ly­ing solely on spon­sor­ships. The need for the money is to take care of im­por­tant is­sues like:

Proper man­age­ment of the dis­trict team;

Lift the stan­dard of club com­pe­ti­tions;

Ac­quir­ing of pro­fes­sional spe­cial­ist coaches and play­ers;

Play­ers wel­fare; Proper train­ing fa­cil­i­ties;

Equip­ping play­ers and of­fi­cials with proper gear;

Med­i­cal; Diet;

Devel­op­ment pro­gramme and the list go on and on.

We un­der­stand that most of our dis­tricts are strug­gling fi­nan­cially but if we are to make a mark in the re­gion and to the foot­ball world then we must start from some­where. It’s time to em­brace the change and put on a new mind­set. It’s not go­ing to be an easy task but it is not an im­pos­si­ble one.

Gov­ern­ment’s num­ber one pri­or­ity was to re­build Fiji and to “Build Back Bet­ter” – bet­ter than be­fore, stronger than be­fore. Voreqe Bain­i­marama Prime Min­is­ter

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