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Editorial: It’s Time To Take Football To The Next Level

Editorial: It’s Time To Take Football To The Next Level
July 09
11:42 2018

Giving our local-based football players the chance to play for these professional overseas clubs will not only help develop them, but it’s also for them to earn their living.

Expect the Vodafone Fijian football team to slip further in the next FIFA rankings.

The Christophe Gamel-coached side are current­ly ranked at 165 and last Thursday they went down 1-0 to Malaysia which is ranked 171st.

In our earlier outings we lost 3-2 to the Philippines who are ranked at 115 and last year we went down to 94th ranked Estonia 2-0.

Although disappointed with the loss in Kuala Lumpur, it’s time to look at solutions that could produce the much-desired results and also lift our image in the re­gion and then to the football world.

When Gamel first took office, he immediately noticed that most of our players lacked national pride. This was based on players’ attitude when selected for national du­ties.

It was things like reporting late to camp, coming up with excuses just to stay away while some don’t even turn up or call him at all.

With his no-nonsense approach, strict measures were put in place by the Fiji Football Association to ensure that players changed their mindset and attitude when it came to representing their country.

The other, Gamel recently pointed out, was the lack of constructive football being played by our top district teams as teams cannot put together three to six passes.

Playing kick-and-chase football is the norm when watching any Vodafone Premier League matches.

To fix this it will have to go down to the monitoring of the district coaches. They are the ones who check on the players to ensure that they are fit and follow the philoso­phy of football.

Sadly, only a few coaches in the country are doing this and that explains why most players do not follow a prop­er programme and process.

It’s time for a change and Gamel with the support of Fiji Football Association, is using every opportunity to develop a new generation of footballers.

Yes, we were all disappointed with the loss to Malaysia, but Gamel took with him a relatively young side and a few old hands. While in Kuala Lumpur, he also told the media there that compared with Malaysia, our players were only amateurs.

It’s true in a sense, but it opens up another avenue for Gamel and Fiji FA to explore and that is to mar­ket our upcoming talented players to overseas clubs in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Europe and North and South America.

So far, we’ve got only Roy Krishna playing for Wellington Phoenix in the A-League and it’s about time we have more Fijian players playing in that competition.

There’s no excuse since we’ve played in the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and also the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Already, we should have seen talented players like Iosefo Verevou, Praneel Naidu, Setareki Hughes, Jale Dreloa, Kolinio Sivoki, Antonio Tuivuna and so on play­ing for overseas clubs and not locally.

It’s time for Gamel and Fiji FA to take action.

Yes, we all know it’s not going to be easy, but nothing is impossible.

We have what it takes to produce top football players internationally as what we’ve done in rugby union and rugby league.

Giving our local-based football players the chance to play for these professional overseas clubs will not only help develop them, but it’s also for them to earn their living.

This will benefit our national team and also ensures a higher standard of football being played locally.

LEONE CABENATABUA

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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