Monday 26 June 2023, 15:00

Panama’s Virgilio Tejeira complex gets FIFA Forward-backed overhaul

  • FIFA Forward Programme contributed to complete revamp of facility

  • Extensive refurbishment ranged from changing rooms to auditorium

  • Transformation will be essential for development of Panamanian football

In an exciting milestone for football in Panama, the senior men’s national team were able to complete their pre-tournament preparations for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup within the newly refurbished Virgilio Tejeira training complex. This was the first time that the team had the opportunity to make use of the new Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) facilities prior to a major competition. The renovation of the Virgilio Tejeira complex was made possible by the FIFA Forward Programme during its 2.0 cycle, which provided financial and technical assistance to achieve an exhaustive refurbishment that created an ideal environment for comprehensive football development. The project focused on enhancing the facility’s look as well as its functionality, thereby benefiting fans, players, coaches and other stakeholders.

“The renovation of the Virgilio Tejeira complex is very important for us and for Panama’s national teams, especially the men’s senior side that will soon be competing in the Gold Cup,” said Pedro Nunez, who oversees Panama’s national teams at FEPAFUT. “Having facilities like these gives us a massive advantage.”

He continued: “Being able to take advantage of this area of the country, to have and use our very own facilities, and to plan and schedule according to the wishes of our coaching staff just makes everything so much easier.”

Derek Canavaggio, Development Manager for the FIFA Regional Office in Panama City, added: “It’s really important to be able to give our member associations the chance to benefit from high-quality facilities in their respective countries. These regional facilities not only have an immediate impact on a national team’s training activities, but they also provide a general boost to football development within the country.

“The establishment of regional headquarters for Panama’s central provinces will help to increase youth player sign-ups and improve the abilities of coaches at various levels, among other targets that the member association has set for itself. There’s no doubt that this facility will help to grow football in Panama, and make it more accessible for the central provinces.”

Several actions were implemented to improve the general level of the facilities during the renovation phase of the Virgilio Tejeira complex, which is located in the countryside, some 160 kilometres from Panama City. For example, a new 40-space car park complete with floodlights was built, facilitating safe and comfortable access to the complex.

“It’s great to train here in the province, far from the city,” said Panamacentre-back Fidel Escobar. “For us it’s vital to feel calm, and everything’s that’s been done here is essential for what the national team has in the pipeline.”

High-traffic flooring was installed in the foyers and the framework of the roof and video rooms were completely replaced, ensuring a modern environment that is conducive to the team’s match analysis and tactical development work.

The Virgilio Tejeira stadium today has a different face and this is thanks to the support provided by the FIFA Forward Programme through its regional office. Today our teams have an adequate place to prepare before important events.

Miguel Zuñiga, FEPAFUT's secretary general

The changing rooms, medical treatment areas and referee rooms were also fully remodelled, resulting in first-class facilities and optimal conditions in which the relevant individuals can perform their duties. 

“It’s really nice that we’ve been able to prepare here,” said Canaleros striker Cecilio Waterman. “The training camp is just all about us; the only things on our minds are training, resting and playing, and that’s crucial for a footballer.”

In addition, the regional headquarters office and administrative office were revamped, as were the ticket desks and entrances, with the aim of improving the overall efficiency and convenience of the administrative processes.

One of the highlights of the entire refurbishment was the auditorium, which now boasts cutting-edge audiovisual equipment and new furniture and fittings. The room not only provides a suitable space for the training of coaches, but it also serves as a video analysis area for national-team sessions.

As well as all of the aforementioned enhancements, upgrades were made to the power systems, guaranteeing the smooth and safe operation of the facility.

Los Canaleros are now ready and eager to deal with the challenges that may arise at the 2023 Gold Cup, as well as any tests that come their way in the future, as they aim to cement their status as one of Concacaf’s major footballing nations, safe in the knowledge that they can count on top-notch facilities that will support them in their efforts.