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Nair's call

Pravin Narain
Saturday, November 04, 2017

FORMER Fiji football international player Vishwa Nair, who is no stranger to the sport is impressed with Christophe Gamel's work in implementing some key areas for the growth of sport.

He is happy with the way Fiji football is heading to and commended the coach's input.

Nair was known for his magic touches and he played in the midfield position.

He was committed and dedicated whenever he put on the national jersey.

He featured for teams such as Lautoka and Ba.

Nair resides in Australia and works as a property and marketing consultant for Ray White company.

"There is still a lot of work to be done at the grassroots level and they need positive criticism to improve," Nair said.

"They have got a very good coach in Christophe Gamel.

"I have watched Fiji's games against Solomon Islands and they are playing with a bit of structure. They are using the full ground and moving from back to front and it has to remain that way if we are to move forward.

"Gamel needs to be given the full resources to work with. Without these tools we cannot have a winning combination. Our international games have to continue and it does not have to stop.

"Gamel has got a structure and the plan and it is going to work and he has to stick to it and he had been disciplining players and he must also be given the free role to whatever he wants including suspending players or get the pride back.

"Fiji Football Association is looking at seven to eight international friendly matches and it would engage players to have interest in football."

Nair said playing in the national team was a privilege and not a right.

"The pride has to be brought back," he said.

"Fiji FA has improved in a lot of areas and they need to go down and focus more on the National Club Championship and there were a few of these players who got selected from the NCC and during our time, the championship was hotly contested. Fiji was ranked better during our time and it was by playing more international matches"

He said there were certain things Fiji FA could improve on.

"During our time we used to hold on to our position for a long time, but now there is not much interest as they have to look into their education and to look after themselves too," he said.

"We were lucky to play in the FIFA under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015.

"I am little upset on the Fiji under-20 players who played in the World Cup, but how many players Fiji FA have looked after and how many are in the national team now.

Nair said the players lacked district pride.

"I used to be a banker at the Westpac Bank and during our time we used to fight with the employer to get time off to go into camps, but right now players have made their priority to play for the district teams rather than the national team," he said.

"We used to get $120 during the camp period — that was 15 years ago, but the cost of living has gone up and that is why most of the players are giving more emphasis to the district teams.

"As a player when your mind is right and you do not have any issues then you can focus and concentrate on the tactics, but if you have issues at home then it becomes a problem and the whole reason for them to come to the national camp is to earn money for their families so they can look after their families. The allowance should be adjusted to the cost of living."

He said Fiji FA had been doing its work right, but there was room for improvements.

"The National Football League has to be restructured and it can be called Fijian League and Fiji FA needs to take one of the tournament out as it is just pumping in a lot of money and the players get fatigued.

"There should be three round of matches and we have the potential to do it and foreign players bring a standard with them. Fiji should play more teams which are ranked from 120-130 in Asia and they are looking for matches.

"New Zealand plays in Asia and they do not play here (Oceania region) and we have to go past Australia. Fiji FA needs to fill in the districts with the qualified coaches who can work on the grassroots development in places such as Dreketi, Labasa, Bua and Seaqaqa so we can get a pool of players prepared for national duties. We also need more teams in the premier division — 10 teams would be good. However, they are focusing on 90 minutes of football which could be hard."

Nair said players needed to be given respect so they can give back to Fiji FA and the nation.

"Fiji FA's main focus is 2026 World Cup which is very good and that is about eight years from now, but the Fiji FACT, Battle of the Giants tournaments and the Inter-District Championships will not take Fiji to the World Cup though I know Fiji FA needs money, but we have to cut down one tournament and give players some rest," he added.

"The players should not be treated like school students and if they are treated like one then they would break camp.

"In New Zealand, players assemble four or five days before the camp as they do their tactics and no physical work since they already do their own training and they enjoy the environment."

Nair wished to see the Fiji team compete in the FIFA World Cup in the future with all the hard work from the coaches and administrators had been putting in place to take football forward.

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