Rewa and Labasa, presently, seem to be the only football districts investing in youth development. This is evident by the number of young players in their run-on teams and it is paying dividends for the two sides. Unfortunately, the national coach Frank Farina appears to be either oblivious to or have a particular aversion to talents from the northern district.
Given their consistent stellar performances, it is a baffling mystery why players like Manasa Levaci, Ilisoni Lolaivalu and Ratu Anare have not been considered for the Olympics squad. These young talents need technical guidance to hone their raw talents and presently they are not getting any.
It is also important to note that Mr Farina’s salary is paid for by the Fijian taxpayers through the Fiji Sports Commission and one of the key objectives of this programme is to develop the technical capacity of young sporting talents. By excluding players from Vanua Levu, which does not even have a football academy, Mr Farina and Fiji FA are failing to meet this objective and should be held accountable by Government.
Investments in sports facilities in the North will also advance Government’s efforts to address the urban drift to the central division, and clearly despite direct grants from public funds, Fiji FA, through its exclusionary actions, are at odds with these objectives. This is the biggest irony of Mr Farina’s engagement using taxpayer funds.