(left to right) FIFA Director of Development for Africa and the Caribbean Veron Mosenga-Omba, former Manchester United football Dwight Yorke, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura and FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani as they cut the ribbon to officially open the office yesterday.
FIFA Office opens its doors
Although it has been operating in Barbados since September last year the FIFA Regional Office officially swung open its doors yesterday. Set in Barbados as a hub destination to preside over most of the nations in the Caribbean, the offices were opened in a ceremony that saw presidents of the region's football associations and high ranking FIFA and CONCACAF officials in attendance.
With the event serving as one of the very first assignments for newly-appointed Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King, the former calypsonian and entertainer gave the assurance that the government was committed to the development of the sport locally and in the region. “Football has been a passion of this country and the region for a very long time and to have FIFA bring their regional office here is really exciting times for us her in Barbados. We look forward to working with you and you have my assurance that whatever is needed, our government will be there to walk with you hand in hand to improve the standards across the Caribbean.” Minister King said.
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura was one of the VIPs in attendance and she said that she was pleased to see FIFA's work paying dividends. “As you may know, I was announced as FIFA Secretary General two years ago on the same day that the 'FIFA Forward Programme' was presented. At that time, this is what it was, a programme and a masterplan. A place to change the face of football development for the better. To invest much more than ever and to increase efficiency and oversight. As I stand here in a location like this, I just realised how fortunate I am to witness this promise coming to fruition everyday around the globe.”
During a press conference that followed, President of the Barbados Football Association Randy Harris said that he was pleased that our island was the host nation for the offices an that now was the time to get to work. “First of all, let me say that this is a regional office an I am also the President of the Caribbean Football Union and I think regionally because what we do as a union redounds to the benefit of each individual MA (member Association). And I believe that if we operate as a united front, we will get more done because we will make things easier for each other.” he said before going on to add that there was now a real tangible hand-up for the region's associations. “This office is, I believe, the beginning of the region going to another standard when it comes to the game because they are here to help us. They have been working with us to make sure that we get all the assistance that we want and it is just beautiful that we have their presence and face here in Barbados.”
With a question raised about the next step forward for the youth game, Harris said that the region's territories needed to put their heads together to create something great. “I believe that we can work with both FIFA and CONCACAF as a union and put our heads together because we have some pretty skilled people in the Caribbean when it comes to coaching. We can use them and come up with a programme for the region in terms of youth development. A lot of us are doing are own thing. We have good youth tournaments among the schools in our countries – some of us have it and others just don't have anything going. So we need to come together, share ideas. Those who have the experience and knowledge will help the others to come along but we have to work as a region. That is how we will get strong in the game.” Harris said.