OFC -The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is pleased to formally announce the staging of the inaugural edition of the OFC President’s Cup.
The competition draws together six teams from three confederations and includes Kiwi and Oceania champions Auckland City FC, Amicale of Vanuatu, Bodden Town from the Cayman Islands, former Bahraini champions Busaiteen FC, Fiji U-20 and Singapore U-23.
OFC President and FIFA Vice-President David Chung says the competition is designed to strengthen the Oceania confederation’s political and sporting ties with the AFC and CONCACAF.
“The purpose of the OFC President’s Cup is to offer opportunities for teams within our region to gain important experiences against teams from other nations outside Oceania.
“At the same time this competition also builds important relationships with confederations with whom we share a lot in common.
“Bodden Town (CONCACAF) and Busaiteen FC (AFC) are two clubs with strong links in their confederations and by involving them in the spirit of competition we can further strengthen our ties in that part of the football world.
“From an operational perspective we also embrace the opportunity to work more closely with the local football community in New Zealand and football stakeholders such as New Zealand Football (NZF), the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Auckland Football Federation and the Northern Football Federation,” Chung says.
Through a joint partnership with the Just Play program, OFC and UNICEF will also celebrate 25 years of children’s rights during this year’s inaugural OFC President’s Cup.
“Our relationship with UNICEF is an important feature of the President’s Cup and a worthy partnership given there are over two million children aged 5 to 14 years in the pacific region today.
“Our Just Play programme is a sport for development program designed for children aged 6-12 years. We hope to launch this internationally renowned project in New Zealand with UNICEF’s continued support,” Chung says.
Engaging over 150,000 children in the program since 2009, Just Play operates in ten Pacific Islands countries. Just Play is helping children in the Pacific to grow, learn and explore sport in a positive and a meaningful way, while addressing social issues relevant to the region.
OFC was awarded the International Sports Federation of the Year in Monaco, by the Peace and Sport Organisation in 2013, for Just Play’s contribution to the development of social integration and peace through sport.
While the OFC President’s Cup may have an altruistic theme in its design, the competition itself is expected to be intense.
Both Bodden Town and Busaiteen were recently crowned national league champions in the Cayman Islands and Bahrain respectively.
Busaiteen were also runners-up in the King’s Cup in Bahrain earlier this year.
Six-time Oceania champions Auckland City FC completed a domestic and regional clean sweep in the OFC Champions League and ASB Premiership last season and will be in full preparatory mode for the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
And Fiji U-20 and Singapore U-23 have their eyes set on the world stage.
Fiji qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand and Singapore are keen to get to Rio de Janeiro for the Men’s Olympic Games Football Tournament in two years’ time.
Bodden Town club President Mark Scotland says the club is looking forward to taking part in what is hoped to become an annual event.
“The OFC President’s Cup presents our club with a great opportunity to experience football in another part of the world and we can’t wait to arrive in New Zealand.
“The CONCACAF region is similar to the OFC in that it is a confederation spread across a vast geographical area but where football is still a very important part of life,” Scotland says.
The competition will be played in two groups of three teams with the top team in each section advancing to the final.
The tournament will be staged at the Trusts Arena in Henderson from 17-23 November.
The official draw for the OFC President’s Cup will be held in early October.