28 Nov 2013

Sport: Oceania Football strengthening ties with Asia

5:49 pm on 28 November 2013

The Oceania Football Confederation is building closer ties with its Asian counterparts.

At the OFC's Executive Committee meeting over the weekend it was confirmed the Futsal Invitational Event featuring teams from Oceania and Asia, which was first hosted this year, will become an annual event.

And a new tournament, the President's Cup, was confirmed to start next year featuring club teams from Oceania, Asia and Australia.

The OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas told Vinnie Wylie the confederations are working together to lift playing standards.

TAI NICHOLAS: The president and I were in Asia last month. We talked with a number of federations and with Asia Football about testing the level of OFC and AFC teams. We can confirm Indonesia and also China and Korea in addition to Australia and Malaysia joining Samoa OFC teams so we can build on this Futsal invitational tournament. It's a promotion of the sport. It tests the facilities with our television broadcasts. We're able to broadcast it and send it around the Pacific, if not Asia. If we're honest, it's an opportunity to provide some revenue both to the hosts and overseas. Sponsors are now coming on board. A lot of people are going to watch it and the governments are keen to host events like this.

VINNIE WYLIE: Who cover the costs for that? Is it each individual team or do you pay for the Asian teams to come down?

TN: I think if they can get themselves to the venue, and we're looking at New Zealand and Fiji and New Caledonia and Tahiti, we would pick up the accommodation and all the logistics once they land in the host country.

VW: Along a similar vein, we've got the Presidents Cup coming in. You've obviously revamped the Oceania Champions League based in Fiji, I guess, next year. And the Presidents Cup is I guess an offshoot of that to give teams at that kind of level, or the elite teams within the champions league some more top-level matches again.

TN: The former format was costing us over $1 million, where the current format in a centralised venue costs us $300,000. So the saving of that obviously goes back into development of the game, and then building the relationship that we already have with Asia, can we also test our best clubs against those in Asia. And the president was in Indonesia last week and he managed to confirm an invitation from Indonesia, which ironically is a team from West Java, which is on the other side of Papua New Guinea. Australia have launched the new National Champions League, which is the state champions. That winner could also be invited with the OFC league champion and runner-up. And it does a couple of things, as I said - tests the level of the clubs, but also provides a really good warm-up tournament for the OFC Champions League winner that will then head off and play in the Fifa World Cup. We agreed to pay all the air fares and accommodation for the teams coming to New Zealand, which will be the venue of the first tournament. And I think it provides a really good warm up for the OFC Champions winner before he heads off to the Fifa World Cup.