Sunday 30 July 2023, 04:45

Gianni Infantino visits FIFA Forward development projects in Samoa

  • FIFA President saw the progress being made at first hand

  • Football Federation Samoa has built new infrastructure with FIFA Forward support

  • Gianni Infantino met Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio

Gianni Infantino has travelled to Samoa to see at first hand the development which has taken place with the support of the FIFA Forward programme. As announced at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Congress on 19 July, the FIFA President is visiting a number of member associations in the region to witness the progress which is being made. The FIFA President was welcomed by Football Federation Samoa President (FFS) President Samuel Leslie Petaia and met Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio. Gianni Infantino was shown the Apia Park project where, with support from FIFA Forward and the government, the FFS is converting unused land and building new football pitches. The project, which is 80% complete, will comprise new office spaces for the FFS, a covered futsal court that can host regional competitions, and two full-sized pitches which can be used for youth team football. The FIFA President then visited the FFS headquarters at Tuana’imato which is also home to the national stadium. The offices have been renovated and the stadium upgraded with the support of FIFA Forward, with new floodlights installed.

“We are all together here to discover this great project, which is possible thanks to the help of the government, of course. Thanks to the great work of the Football Federation of Samoa; and, a little bit as well, thanks to the FIFA Forward funding which creates all these beautiful fields where the youth of this country can train and play,” the FIFA President said. “And, as well, this indoor complex, the offices – I mean state of the art, fantastic. Many, many congratulations.”

“I definitely think that the FIFA Forward programme is crucial for the development of the game, especially in countries where there is most need for investment: investment in infrastructure, investment in academies and training centres,” he added. “And what is done here is really very unique in this region. It is an example that can be and should be followed by many other countries not only in the region, but in other parts of the world. This is exactly what we want with the investments that we are making.”

FIFA Deputy Secretary General – Football, Mattias Grafström, Senior Football Advisor and FIFA World Cup 1998™ winner Youri Djorkaeff and FIFA Legends Houssine Kharja and Tim Cahill were part of the FIFA delegation.

“We are very, very appreciative of FIFA in terms of the financial support and also our partners, the government of Samoa and many other governments that have contributed in a way,” Mr Petaia said. “I believe this is the way forward for football in Samoa. And, once again, thank you President and Tim and everyone here for this great opportunity.” The FIFA President has already attended FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ matches in every venue in Aotearoa New Zealand and, following current first round of visits to the Pacific Islands, he will attend group stage matches in Australia. After the next leg of visits to member associations in the OFC, Mr Infantino will return to Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia.