OFC shows support for Kiribati after warm welcome
KIRIBATI - Dozens of young kids, prominent welcome signs, traditional floral headwear and cold beverages - that was the scene that awaited OFC officials on their arrival in Kiribati this week.
The Kiribati Islands Football Association (KIFA) President Ioteba Redfern and his Executive Committee, scrupulously left nothing out in giving the OFC President Reynald Temarii and his delegation a warm reception for their first ever visit.
“Though short, our busy visit in Kiribati proved very productive,” said President Temarii at the end of his three-day trip which began on Tuesday.
To say they were busy would be an understatement. A significant MOU was penned with KIFA by midnight on the first day followed by a 60-strong coaching clinic for 4-to-12-year olds the next morning, with the kids then entering class an hour later before an abbreviated refereeing course was held including 14 local referees in attendance. Discussions also took place with local TV and media, then meetings with the Kiribati National Olympic Committee (KNOC) and Ministers, plus the Tarawa Trophy Cup award ceremony - to mention but a few activities.
The organizational qualities and concrete outcomes of the inaugural OFC-run Pacific Youth and Sports Conference, involving 900 Pacific youth in Auckland last month, were well received by a grateful Kiribati Minister of Sports who paid tribute to the OFC delegation.
Next up it was the meeting between OFC delegates and the President of the Republic of Kiribati, the Honorable Anote Tong, which represented one of, if not the biggest, highlight.
“Football is the most popular sport in Kiribati Islands. It is definitely the way ahead to solve several issues in Kiribati and to prepare the citizens of tomorrow,” explained President Tong.
The all-important Copenhagen summit arguably failed to give hope and satisfaction to a nation inevitably bound to disappear as sea levels rise, but the Kiribati President showed his relentless spirit in the pursuit of raising the world's awareness on global warming and its hazardous and dramatic consequences.
“In the next decades, 100,000 Kiribati inhabitants may never have a home country anymore,” he poignantly added.
The President’s heartfelt speech spurred a distinct and genuine reaction from the OFC President who showed his feelings of solidarity through emphatic support for Kiribati just as he has for other Oceania countries facing similar global warming effects.
OFC emphasized that the staging of the FIFA Futsal World Cup preliminary round at the Betio Complex in early 2011 will undoubtedly count as an exciting new initiative, as well as a challenging project, that will bring a plethora of benefits to the nation on many levels.
Decisive and invaluable, football media coverage of the event including TV, written press, radio and websites will not only enable one sixth of the world to spot Kiribati on a map but it will also raise awareness on real and urgent global warming issues.
Moreover, it will provide the main island inhabitants and those living on the 23 outer Islands with a lasting legacy.
The Government will ultimately show support in the sufficient upgrades of infrastructure and transportation access, and the final match day will coincide with the groundbreaking of KIFA headquarters and the KIFA 24-bed dormitory, which will be fully funded by OFC and FIFA.
In agreement with KNOC Executive Committee members, these facilities will additionally be made available to the 13 remaining sports federations depending on their needs and requirements.
Once again, OFC motto’s “An Ocean of Solidarity” through football was fully demonstrated during the successful trip.
- No intentions of officially joining OFC?