The Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) wishes to inform the football public that the organisation is currently undergoing reform since 2017 to align itself with reforms expected from FIFA, the main source of funding for VFF football activities.

The VFF says the reforms have an effect on how the organization is run, particularly on a short term. From mid-2016 VFF was under a partial ban by FIFA. The ban was lifted in February 2018. Under new imposed FIFA reforms, the VFF has signed a new contract of Agreed objectives with FIFA in 2017; the primary focus was to improve governance and financial management. The improvement in overnance was the basis for the lifting of the partial Ban in February 2018.

The circumstances in 2016 – February 2018 meant that VFF has had to stop all youth programmes to redirect all funding in 2017 towards the U20 World Cup campaign which costed Vt30 Million. Towards the Mini Games, and in order to achieve Gold, VFF has had to again suspend all youth football activities to assist that the National Team with over Vt10 Million. It is inevitable that some programmes of VFF will be receiving limited attention, notably the Youth Programme. The recent Under 19 programme performance and Under 16 programmes are clear examples. The VFF accepts that this will affect competitions results in the short term.

VFF does not get any direct funding from the Vanuatu Government or local sources to assist in the development of football. Funding is limited and VFF accepts at times it is important to make significant decision, and VFF also accepts there will be after effects. It is important for football fans to understand these are normal business decisions and undertaking.

While VFF fully acknowledges that football fans are unhappy with the recent results, it emphasises that preparation can only be made according to available funding. When there is no national funding to football preparation or any other Federation from the Government, the likelihood or sustaining a high level of performance is a great challenge.

The VFF says both football fans and taxpayers need to fully understand that wining requires investment, however when there is no contribution from Government or the public, there is very little grounds for excessive criticism and abuse. More attention should be focused on the non-existence of a National Sports Policy since 1980, which is crucial for guiding the development of sports, and where National Federation can align or link national aspirations in sport. This is a major concern for football as well as other sports. The removal of formal sports in the Education Curriculum since 1986 is putting too much strain on limited funding in National Sports Federations including Football, far toward developing and lesser on winning.

Recent media report has compared the Sports development in Fiji and Vanuatu. The primary difference is that Fiji has a clear policy on Sports which guides the national development of Sports. Through such policy the budget to the Ministry of Sport in Fiji is Vt1.3 billion compared to Vt181.2 million, which basically is to support the Ministerial and Departmental administration and none to National Sports Federations. The Fiji Government actually pays for the national coach’s salary.

The VFF is calling on the authorities to set the priorities right for the benefit of sports development towards the next pacific games, by immediately considering and implementing a formal Sports Policy in Government.

The VFF currently only has an annual budget of Vt50 million, and only so much can be achieved with these sources. By regulation, VFF is expected to attend all youth tournaments as well as senior and women’s competitions. A national team preparation and overseas travel can cost up to over Vt10 Milion.

At this point, the VFF acknowledges the great effort by the Ministry of Education to reactivate the National school Games. The Federation fully supports this initiative, and has assisted football programmes throughout all provinces by providing logistical support and also prizes. The VFF has a very good working relationship with National sports authorities and wishes to continue to maintain for the interest of sport achievement.

It also wishes to inform that the current initiative as part of the reforms in to relook at the VFF technical programme and competitions structure. The Federation has already recently secured funding for a new National Coach, with coaching education being a significantly integral part of the duties.

The VFF is expected to advertise locally and overseas for a competent national coach to oversee all national Teams this week.

He is expected to be an independent contractor to VFF and not necessarily a staff of VFF with clearly defined objectives. In the hope of creating a competent local pool of coaches through training over the years, it is regrettable to note the internal lack of cooperation within a pool of local coaches. The VFF is disappointed to see that despite putting tremendous effort and investment on coaching capacity building for the past 10 years with the hope of sustaining consistency and performance, these investment haves not lived up to expectation because personal interest and conflict have made national duty a second priority.

The Federation is now expected to renew efforts to strengthen coaching capacity building for the next 8 years focusing very specially for the next World Cup Qualification 2026.

In this respect, there will be recruitment of new local coaching staff also in the coming days who will not be allowed in their contracts to be involved or attached to any local Club but focus on full time basis purely on development and proper training of grassroots (U12), U15, U17, Olympic Team (U23) and National Team for both male and female categories.

VFF also welcomes new initiatives from FIFA during a bilateral meeting with VFF President. FIFA has approved to boost football capacity building by improving National Team Competition. Beginning from 2019 FIFA has approved to assist national team travel with an increase amount of Vt50 million per year. Under this policy, it is mandatory for the national team to undertake four international friendly matches per year. Assistance to operation is expected to also improve.

The VFF will also be announcing a number of initiatives after an executive meeting at the end of this month.

Raymond Nasse

Sports Editor

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