28 May 2020

Sport: Hundreds of Fiji footballers to get financial assistance from OFC

5:03 am on 28 May 2020

The Fiji Football Association says about 400 players will be financially assisted by the regional OFC Solidarity Fund aimed at helping families reliant on the sport's income.

CEO Mohammed Yusuf said the fund would relieve financial pressure off those directly affected by Covid-19 and Cyclone Harold.

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Photo: Unsplash / Glen Carrie

"When Covid-19 hit and competitions came to a standstill, these people were left without any payments coming their way and we realise how difficult it is for them to survive under these circumstances," he said.

Each of OFC's 11 member associations could access over $US31,000 for food assistance for anybody directly affected by Covid-19 and those who lost property due to Cyclone Harold, according to Yusuf.

He said almost 400 players applied and qualified for assistance in various categories including food and hygiene packs, loss of income, medical allowances and self-isolation costs.

"We sent out about seven teams to go throughout the country [and] it took about three weeks to cover all areas."

"Now the Board of Fiji FA has given approval for us to apply through the appropriate channels to OFC for funding and once the funds are in we will tender it to the companies that supply food, building materials, and then we will start distribution to go directly to those players who are affected including any staff, volunteers, referees and coaches," Yusuf said.

Devastation from TC Harold at Bouwaqa Village, Vatulele, Fiji.

Devastation from TC Harold at Bouwaqa Village, Vatulele, Fiji. Photo: Supplied

While some players had been able to receive government payments, Yusuf said it wasn't enough, leaving some of the clubs to rally behind those who were really struggling.

"A team in the north, the other island in Labasa, the association supporters pitched in to pay their players at least half their weekly allowances so they can put food on the table."

"...a couple of other clubs did manage, but how long they can continue that support is a matter of our concern."

Yusuf said the sooner restrictions were lifted and competitions got underway in Fiji again, the sooner the players could get back on their feet.

The FA is anticipating a government decision soon as to when football can resume.

"The quicker we get back to playing football, that will ease a lot of burden on those players."

"We are awaiting the governments directive on that but we have revised our calendar to start our journey.

"In June if and when the government allows contact sports to continue then tentatively we have scheduled the premier league, senior league and women's league to kick-off on July 1."

Roy Krishna scored the only goal of the match.

Roy Krishna scored the only goal of the match. Photo: Supplied/Fiji FA