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Fiji suspends football development

  • Tuesday, May 10 2005 @ 04:49 am ACST
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Oceania Australian football development in Fiji has been suspended indefinitely following an announcement last month by the Fiji Australian Football Association.

The decision, made by the FAFA steering committee and announced on Bigfooty.com on April 26th, is a setback to Australian football's promising development across Oceania. FAFA Steering Committee Member Callum Hughes cited conflicting commitments and a lack of public interest for the move.

"Unfortunately, steering committee members do not have the time required for the establishment of the game and there is a lack of interest in the general public with no more than ten people turning up to our last two public meetings," said Mr. Hughes.

The method of development employed by FAFA has been different than that of other national bodies, both within Oceania and abroad. FAFA focussed upon establishing a solid administrative structure prior to recruiting players, hoping that sponsors would be attracted to the sport to boost its growth. Their intent was to first introduce Australian football to the Fijian Police Force, beginning with the Police Tactical Response Team. However, finding locals interested in trying a football code other than Rugby Union was difficult.

One of the major failures identified in FAFA's development program was the slow process of employing a full-time development officer.

"The major error that was made on our behalf was that of not employing a development officer soon enough. the papers were filled out, but it was decided that we were jumping in the deep end before we could swim," said Mr. Hughes. "As all of the Steering Committee members lived busy lives, a development officer would have proved very beneficial to us.

Australian football development across Oceania has gained strength in recent years. The sport is welll established in Papua New Guinea, Nauru and New Zealand, and it is experiencing strong growth in Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands. Whilst it is disappointing that the code's development in Fiji has suffered a setback, it will hopefully be resurrected in that nation over coming years. We need only to look at ethnic-Fijian AFL footballer David Rodan to see how Fijian footballers could impact upon the game in Australia with proper funding and organisation to promote local competitions.

Readers should be informed that the FAFA website will not be updated until further notice.