Moving soccer forward

Saula Batikado of Nadi clears the ball against Nadogo in under 14 clash during the Primary School Inter District competition at Ratu Cakobau Park. Picture: RAMA

WHEN the Assistant Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Joseph Nand, opened the 44th Fiji Primary Schools Inter District Competition at Ratu Cakobau Park this week, he spoke about playing as a team.

Mr Nand reminded players they could not score a goal if they did not take a shot.

“Playing football with your feet is one thing, but playing with your heart is another,” he stressed.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try doing what your coach told you to do first time.

“Have respect for the match officials, referees, linesman and the fourth official.

“Football is not about one or two star players, it is about the whole team.”

Fiji Primary Schools Football Association president Dinamani Mudaliar said the media played an important role in promoting the game.

We welcome this focus on primary school soccer.

This is the base for our game.

It is where the focus of attention must be placed.

Unfortunately the sport has never been as successful as sevens rugby for instance or our Flying Fijians.

We have never played in a FIFA World Cup.

You have got to be a soccer fan to realise how big that is.

It is arguably one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

Who can ever argue about the massive global reach the event has?

Who can ever argue about its amazing statistics on television viewership or internet access around the world?

FIFA estimated at least 3.2 billion people watched the 2014 World Cup for instance.

One billion people viewed the final. Fiji now ranks 163 with Vanuatu on the FIFA world ranking table.

Of teams from our region, Tahiti are on 159, and New Caledonia are on 154.

The Solomon Islands are on 141 and New Zealand are on 122 with Australia sitting on 44.

It makes sense that focusing our attention on our youngsters could set the base for a positive future.

But that will demand development and nurturing our youngsters to reach their peak over the next few years.

That will require the governing Fiji FA to focus on a strategy that encompasses more exposure at a high level for our youngsters.

It will mean focusing on coaches and motivating our youngsters to raise their standards.

There is no doubt about the popularity of soccer.

There is a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the sport in Fiji.

The challenge though is to make it a winner on the international stage, and lay the platform for our talented youngsters to realise their potential and hit the limelights.


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