The Football Association West Papua (FAWP) attended the Football Strategy Days in Sabbioneta, Italy, on 22 to 24 April 2022. The event brought together the CONIFA members for the first time since January 2020 when the covid-19 pandemic started.
The event was co-organised by the municipality of Sabbioneta, which is a town in Northern Italy that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. Mr. Marco Pasquali, Mayor of Sabbioneta, Mr. Per-Anders Blind, CONIFA Global President, and Mr. Alberto Rischio, CONIFA European President, opened the Football Strategy Days. Mr. Jeroen Zandberg represented the Football Association West Papua.
The three-day event at the Olympic Theatre in the city of Sabbioneta, served as a platform to discuss the strategy of CONIFA and explore future opportunities. The discussions focussed on how to expand the many football opportunities for underrepresented groups and the potential of the upcoming tournaments. In May, June and July 2022 the African, American, European and Women’s football cups, which were postponed from 2020 and 2021, will be held in South Africa, Argentina, France and Northern India, respectively. These events will provide a great boost in morale, visibility and opportunity for the participating CONIFA members.
Several presentations by Dr. Fabio Puntillo, CONIFA General Manager Global Business, as well as Mr. Henrik Schiermacher from Schiermacher Global Outfitters, highlighted the opportunities for the members of CONIFA to create greater awareness of their cultural identity and to take advantage of business opportunities and sponsorship deals in order to enable the growth of sports activities in their communities. Schiermacher Outfitters is a sponsor of CONIFA and it has also been a sponsor of the Football Association West Papua for some time providing sports gear and team outfits. The representative of the West Papuan team, Mr. Zandberg, complimented Mr. Schiermacher on his support for CONIFA and the West Papuan team. The professional equipment enables the players to reach their maximum potential on the field and provides motivation and pride for the players, as well as the supporters.
During the three-day event the Asia Committee also held a meeting. The CONIFA members who represent an underrepresented nation in Asia discussed the activities and events for the next two years. Several proposals were discussed, among which regional football tournaments and individual matches for Asian members in 2022 and 2023, as well as the organisation of the Asia Cup, similar to the African, American and European cups, which will be held later this year. The discussion subsequently focussed on the organisation and possible venue for the Asia cup. The representative of the West Papuan team, Mr. Zandberg, also made several proposals for the organisation of the Asia Cup and possible regional matches and tournaments for Asian members.
The Asian CONIFA members are widely dispersed, reflecting the large geographic extent of Asia. The large physical distances between the Asian CONIFA members make it difficult to play matches against other members, which is much easier for the European members of CONIFA. The Asia Committee and its members will look at the possibilities to organise regional tournaments for Asian CONIFA members in the near future, which will give the teams the opportunity to test their skills against others in the run up to the Asian cup. The various possible locations for the tournaments and the Asia Cup were discussed and the feasibility of each location will be evaluated in the upcoming weeks.
CONIFA organises a World Cup every two years. The last CONIFA World Cup was held in London 2018. The tournament in Northern Macedonia in 2020 was cancelled due to covid-19. The upcoming world cup could be next year. An option for the location of the World cup could be New Clark City in the Philippines. The director of the Asia Committee, Ms Ruby Ann Kagaoan, made an elaborate presentation on the state-of-the-art facilities of New Clark City that could perfectly host the Asia cup. It has the infrastructure, the sports facilities and even an extensive athlete’s village which can host all the participating teams. The facilities are well suited for the organisation of the CONIFA World cup or any other large CONIFA event, be they the Women’s World Cup, the Futsal World Cup or a No limits tournament.
The newly designed trophies for the European and World Cup were presented for the first time at the conference. They will be awarded to the winners of the European Cup in June and the World Cup next year.
The West Papuan team will play numerous matches in the coming months in order to qualify for the World Cup. The participation in this tournament will be a major milestone for West Papua. The joy will be even greater when the West Papua team brings home the World Cup.
Women’s World Football Cup
The Global Women Football Director Ms D’Alary Dalton presented the state of women’s football within CONIFA. The organisation wants to be a driver for change towards a more equal and sustainable society and an inclusive world. Football is the most global of all sports and CONIFA is strongly in favour of including women into the mainstream of football. The participation of women football teams in CONIFA has risen sharply over the past few years and it has led to the organisation of the first CONIFA Women’s cup, which will take place in northern India on 1 to 6 July 2022. The event is hosted by the Tibetan community and will feature teams from Africa, Europe and Asia.
The Football Association West Papua is also active in women’s football. During the General Meeting of CONIFA in Jersey, England, in January 2020, Mr. Zandberg participated in the Women’s Committee meeting where the various representatives discussed the expansion and integration of Women’s football. Several CONIFA members already had well organised and established women’s teams while others were working on setting up their teams. These aspiring nations, like West Papua, have the added challenge to establish teams without being able to access a pool of players from a national or regional competition, since women’s football is less established in many regions of the world.
The Football Association West Papua was in the process of setting up a women’s football team in the beginning of 2020, which was unfortunately put on hold due to the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic made physical events very difficult. However, the light of progress has again provided opportunities and at this moment the women’s team of the Football Association West Papua is being set up. The West Papua women’s football team will play their first match in the near future and become part of the global movement for greater respect and more equality.