Cook Islands Football Association will be receiving an additional $150,000 annually from the Oceania body to boost the development of the sport in the country.
This after the Oceania Football Confederation revealed it will invest an unprecedented $43 million directly into football development in 2021 and 2022.
In a statement, OFC says it will increase its development grant to its 11 member associations by more than $3 million in the coming two years to allow them to place a stronger emphasis on governance and football development.
Cook Islands and the other associations will receive $700,000 across two years – an increase of $150,000 each year.
Of the $350,000 annual grant, $100,000 will be dedicated to national team costs with at least 25 per cent to be invested into the women’s squad; $100,000 will be assigned to member association governance and management with the remaining $150,000 to be spent on football development with at least 25 per cent allocated to women’s football.
Lee Harmon, the president of the Cook Islands Football Association, yesterday welcomed the additional funding.
Harmon said the funds would be used to strengthen their technical team.
“Most of the funding we receive from Oceania Football is used to run the coaching and refereeing courses. Apart from those two main areas, we also use some funds to support one or two teams going overseas,” Harmon said.
“The increase in funding will surely help progress the development of football in this country. Its not a massive increase but it will surely help.”
While announcing the increases, OFC said it would agree on tailor-made contracts with each member association to ensure there are clear plans in place for each nation to develop football in their own country.
OFC general secretary Franck Castillo said this investment tied into the organisation’s long-term goals of seeing two teams from OFC qualify for the men’s FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027.
“OFC is in much better shape today with improved governance and management structures,” Castillo said.
“Every single dollar is spent wisely to develop football, from the social aspect with the Just Play programme and grassroots investment to the elite level across the men’s and women’s game.”
OFC’s long-term vision will include developing a new strategy for women’s football.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the confederation has rejigged their operating budget for 2021 and will invest another $1.14 million into women’s football activities across the region.
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 set to be co-hosted by New Zealand, Castillo said the time was right to put more emphasis on the women’s game.
“There is an opportunity for us to build a legacy for women’s football in the coming years and OFC wants to drive the increased participation and investment in women’s football in the Pacific,” he said.
OFC’s executive committee has also agreed to provide a new grant to member associations to invest in their clubs.
The inaugural grant will be $50,000 – to be split evenly between men’s and women’s teams – and will be used for costs such as administration, logistics, equipment, and football development.
“Clubs are the lifeblood of football in the Pacific and represent a crucial part of the development phase for our players,” Castillo said.
From 2021 onwards, the OFC Champions League will have prize money attached.
A total purse of $175,000 will be up for grabs with $75,000 for the winner, $50,000 for second and $25,000 for the teams that finish third and fourth.
The prize money is designed to serve as motivation for the competing clubs, while acknowledging the significant financial undertaking they make to participate in the competition.
OFC will also invest more than $1 million into team preparation for sides that are attending a FIFA World Cup or the Olympics.
National teams from age-group level through to seniors will be given $100,000 while beach soccer and futsal teams will receive $50,000.
There will also be two individual scholarships for young male and female players worth $40,000 each.
- Additional reporting from OFC Media