Thursday 23 February 2023, 06:00

Panama building its future with FIFA Forward

  • Panama FA breaks ground on new high-performance centre 

  • Ambitious project currently at site-preparation stage 

  • FIFA Forward programme providing technical and financial support  

On 13 February 2023, the Panamanian Football Association (FEPAFUT) broke ground on the construction of its new high-performance centre in Burunga, in the city of Arraijan, just west of Panama City.

In attendance were a number of local dignitaries; FEPAFUT President Manuel Arias; Jose Alfonso Rodriguez, Development Manager of the FIFA Regional Office in Panama; several FEPAFUT and FIFA representatives, and leading figures from the football world, such as Jorge Dely Valdes and Jaime Penedo.

The news could not have come at a better time, with Panama qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ for the first time in their history after beating Paraguay 1-0 in the inter-confederation play-offs on Wednesday, thanks to a Lineth Cedeno goal. 

With its new construction project, FEPAFUT is showing its determination to back up such ground-breaking achievements and to take solid steps in giving long-term support to its national teams.

“I think it will take some time to sink in fully but I can say that all our hard work and training has paid off,” Panama forward Riley Tanner told FIFA+ after their historic win over Paraguay. “That’s so satisfying, and to see my team-mates so happy, knowing the support we’re getting back in Panama, really is an incredible feeling. It’s just awesome.” 

Work begins

With studies having now been compiled, permits obtained and the design of the future high-performance centre completed, construction work can now begin. 

The first four months of the year are invariably dry in Panama, the perfect time of year to commence earth moving, clear the approximately 75,000m² site and excavate 199,000m³ of soil for the creation of the terraces envisaged in the project. In the meantime, and in keeping with FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s Vision 2020-2023, the FIFA Forward programme is providing the necessary technical and financial support.

FEPAFUT starts to build a great future

“With every long journey you have to take a first step,” said Jose Alfonso Rodriguez. “The project, which covers an area of approximately 15 hectares, is located in an area that is perfectly suited to the development of football in Panama. The construction of the complex will involve a number of phases and will include four pitches, a high-performance sports centre, a futsal dome, a beach soccer pitch, halls of residence and administrative areas with offices for development and operational staff.”

“We hope that the first two pitches will be ready by October or November and the main building by May 2024,” commented FEPAFUT President Arias. “One of the four pitches will be known as the Mini Estadio and will have seating for 1,400 people. The centre will also comprise rooms for training, seminars and press conferences.”

The ultimate aim of the project is to provide the country’s national football, beach soccer and futsal teams with the best possible facilities and allow them to develop their potential to the full. 

“It’s important for the national teams to have facilities where they can prepare to compete at the very highest level,” added Arias.

Having already refurbished the stadium at the Virgilio Tejeira Football Complex and installed an artificial pitch there, FEPAFUT has again underlined its commitment to investing in the development of first-class facilities in Panama.