Saturday 10 June 2023, 07:15

FIFA Secretary General visits Vanuatu to discuss football’s transformative power

  • FIFA Secretary General commences trip to South Pacific

  • The visit is centred around women’s football, women in leadership and youth empowerment

  • First leg of the trip was spent in Port Vila, Vanuatu

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura has completed the first leg of a visit to the South Pacific, with Vanuatu being the first stop. The FIFA delegation, including FIFA Council member and New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood, and Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman visited local players and dignitaries to help propel women’s football in Vanuatu.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura at Vanuatu Football Federation's Teouma Academy

Centred around women’s football, women in leadership and youth empowerment, the trip aimed to create a lasting impact by inspiring the next generation of football leaders, fostering gender equality within the sport, and promoting Vanuatu as a hub for football development. The trip started with a tour of the newly rebuilt facilities of the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) where the FIFA delegation received a traditional welcome and met the U-16 women’s national team.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura delivers a speech in Vanuatu

Following conversations with FIFA Vice-President and VFF President Lambert Maltock on initiatives to progress women’s football in the country, the FIFA Secretary General visited the Minister of Sports and Youth Development for an important discussion on growing football infrastructure and funding. The FIFA Secretary General confirmed support through the FIFA Forward Programme but stressed the importance of increasing the participation of government and the private sector to grow football across all levels.

FIFA Secretary General attends a brainstorming session hosted by  Vanuatu Member of Parliament, Julie King

A highlight of the trip was an afternoon brainstorming encounter where the FIFA Secretary General was able to share her experience with influential women in Vanuatu football, providing a perfect platform for the FIFA delegation to inspire future and current women leaders in Vanuatu football by addressing the challenges faced, milestones achieved, and the transformative power of football. The event was organised by former Vanuatu national team player and current Member of Parliament, the Honourable Julie King, who also shared her personal journey through football and how it helped her work through a structured society in becoming a member of Parliament.

The final day saw the FIFA delegation visit the new Freshwater Stadium to launch the Freshwater Youth League, where just days ago fans packed into the revamped 6,500-seat ground to watch the nation’s first ever professional footballer, Brian Kaltak, win the A-League Men’s championship on big screens. The stadium is the first in the country to be accessible for people with reduced mobility. In a smart and sustainable use of natural resources, the stadium converts sunlight into electrical energy, and Vanuatu's sub-tropical climate means that a water reticulation system has also been implemented, ensuring the pitch can be maintained during the drier months of the year. Its construction alone was a feat in patience and endurance, with the project's evolution having to span both COVID-19 and two tropical cyclones, yet still being completed under budget, solely by local companies.

The trip concluded with a visit to the VFF Teoma Academy where the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS) was launched. The FIFA TDS, offers bespoke assistance to member associations (MAs) to help them achieve their full potential and continuing the measures taken to reduce the disparity in the level of football between different regions of the world. The Secretary General now travels to New Caledonia to continue her visit of the South Pacific.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura in Port Vila, Vanuatu