Sunday, 20 January 2013

St Pierre et Miquelon interview

St Pierre et Miquelon (SPM) are a pair of tiny islands off the east coast of Canada, who formed a representative football team to take part in the second edition of the Coupe de l'Outre Mer for French overseas territories in Paris in 2010.

Like their debut in 2010, SPM's latest venture last Autumn in the most recent Coupe de l'Outre produced another series of heavy defeats, including a 10-0 thrashing from eventual winners Reunion (below).

SPM has a population of just 5,800 and trying to put out and manage a competitive team against experienced sides like Reunion, who have 25,000 registered players, must be one of the most difficult jobs in world football.

For an exclusive interview with SPM's beleagured but phlegmatic coach Yannick Lafont (below), click here.

For more on football in SPM, buy the February 2013 edition of World Soccer magazine.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Kiribati National Championships in cash shortfall

The Kiribati Football Association (KFA) is appealing to FIFA for funds to help stage a national championship that the world body has said is a condition of membership for the Pacific island chain.

Kiribati fills the criteria of United Nations membership but after a seven-year wait, last year the KFA received just 300 balls and were left with the impression that staging a national championship was a condition of FIFA membership.

KFA president Ioteba Redfern says: “We have not had any more contact with FIFA yet despite our numerous emails to them. We hope to get them to assist us in some of our development. One such development is the hosting of a national football championship in June this year.”

The disparate chain - a former UK colony then known as trhe Gilbert Islands - is comprised of 33 islands but has a land mass of just 811 sq km. Kiribati is an associate member of the Oceania Football Confederation, which has granted the KFA some funds but more is need to cover the cost of getting 23 male teams and fewer female teams to the finals on the main island of Tarawa and also on Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island.

The KFA estimate the cost of staging a national championship to be NZD$47,192. The OFC grant of NZD$D30,000 was to cover running costs and a KFA plan for the championships shows a shortfall in funds of NZD$43,152.

The KFA propose to cover the cost of trophies, radio announcements and money transfers which total up to NZD$4,640. The KFA’s business plan also says that the association proposes to cover the cost of balls, although 300 have already been provided by FIFA.

The 23 teams that have entered have been split into five groups. The tournament will start in May with group one games played May 11-25. Group two will run from June 15-29, group three from July 27 July to August 10 and groups four and five from August 24 to September 7.

Group 1 – Makin, Butaritari, Marakei, Abaiang, and North Tarawa

Group 2 – Betio,Tarawa Teinainano, Maiana, Kuria, Aranuka,

Group 3 – Abemama, Nonouti and Tab North, Onotoa, and Banaba

Group 4 - Tab South, Beru, Nikunau, Tamana and Arorae

Group 5 – Christmas, Tabuaeran and Teraina

The top two teams will qualify for the finals with group winners also getting NZD$1,000 and a trophy and runners-up winning NZD$500.
Groups one to four will play on Tarawa with group five playing on Christmas Island due to travel costs. None of the teams would fly to Tarawa. Instead, the footballers would be expected to travel by ship. The cost of the tournament is based on return fare by ship from each of the islands to Tarawa.

Getting a side over from neighbouring North Tarawa would cost NZ$D760 according to the KFA’s business plan. If a side can be raised from the 1,200 inhabitants living on the 9.5 sq km atoll of Arorae – formerly known as Hope Island – the cost of getting that team to Tarawa by ferry would cost NZD$D 2,340.

“We plan to go ahead with the championship even if we do not receive the support but it will help a lot if we get their [FIFA’s] support,” adds Redfern.

The KFA hope to get government assistance with a view to staging a tournament that can demonstrate to FIFA what can be achieved, but the chances of renewed activity for the Kiribati national team have withered after the proposed appointment of Scottish coach Kevin McGreskin (pictured) who holds the UEFA-A licence, came to nothing.

Kiribati’s last senior XI-a-side matches were in the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia and the team was not expected to play until the next Games in Papua New Guinea in two years’ time. McGreskin had hoped to arrange a rare Kiribati international fixture with Fiji during his proposed visit last summer.

In the run-up to McGreskin proposed visit, Kiribati played in the 2012 OFC futsal championship. The previous year, Kiribati had beaten Tuvalu but in 2012 Pine Iosfea’s side were crushed 21-1 by New Zealand and then savaged 22-2 by Fiji (pictured). That augured badly for an XI-a-side fixture, which McGreskin anticipated would cost of circa £25,000.

The XI-a-side Fiji fixture never materialised and McGreskin claims he has not heard from the KFA since then. McGreskin said: “I haven't had contact from Ioteba on a long while. The intended fixture never materialised so my next suggestion was that I would fly out for the national championships but I didn't get any information back regarding dates, despite enquiring a number of times.

“To his credit, Ioteba did try to liaise with FIFA regarding assistance with funding for travel but I never heard anything more about that and maybe it proved a bit of a stumbling block. I tried a few more emails. After hearing nothing back I assumed they were not wanting to move ahead with me coming over.

“Much as it is a project I was very excited in participating in I have kept myself busy with my other coaching activities and these have all been progressing very well. However, getting involved in football in that part of the world is still very much something I am interested in.”
Redfern also claims not to have heard from McGreskin for five months. Either way, Kiribati’s national XI-a-side team look unlikely to play any matches in the near future as the KFA’s focus remains on meeting FIFA’s demands.