The Grenada Football Association (GFA) finally has a facility it can now call its home – a project funded by the Federation of the International Football Association (FIFA).
The new GFA head office was commissioned Sunday by President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.
An excited GFA President Cheney Joseph who was overcome with joy and satisfaction told the opening ceremony that a resting place has finally been found for the local FA, which has been in train for the past 80 years.
The building which started construction in November 2015 took ten months to complete at a cost of EC $1.6M.
According to Joseph, the journey to finally having a home for GFA was a long one with the harsh reality that the operations was forced to move from one place to another over the years.
“I think football will benefit from this because now we can concentrate more on what we should be doing rather than having to be talking to landlords about when they would get pay,” he said.
The GFA Boss expressed the hope that having invested a large sum of money on the building with support from FIFA and Government, the purpose for which the building is to be used for the development of football throughout Grenada will now be manifested.
“I do hope somehow, the activities that take place inside the walls of that building will come to the dreams of many to one day be able to see their sons and daughters, grandsons, grand-daughters playing football beyond the shores of Grenada,” he said.
Joseph recalled that when the idea of having a building for GFA was first mooted, many felt it was going to be a waste of resources.
“I saw it different. Having a home for football creates an opportunity whereby in a concentrated area we can then focus on the other areas of the sport – the grassroots, the youth, match officiating, club administration, player development,” he said.
Joseph stressed that as an association, GFA will ensure that the investment given by FIFA will stand out.
He was also high in praise for the state of local football, which he said, is on the rise.
Joseph noted that whereas years ago football was a sport of the disenfranchise, he is now seeing a lot more persons who can be classified as being in the elite class participating in the game.
The visiting FIFA President who was on the island for the commissioning ceremony said that the construction of the GFA administrative building was the result of a concrete project that was put in its budget for Grenada.
Infantino believes that Grenada has a passion for sports and football in particular, and the new head office building will help to structure and channel the passion of that talent as a result of the proper administration that was missing.
The Italian head of world football who took over the post on February 26th, 2016 recalled that amidst the recent wrangling in FIFA he has come to the table with a clean record.
“I don’t steal, I don’t cheat and I don’t benefit personally, so we have to work according to the highest standards, and we just have to make things in a transparent way to show to the world how we are working,” he said.
A number of high-ranking FIFA executive members are currently facing criminal charges in the United States for corruption and bribery.
The immediate past President, Sepp Blatter and his heir apparent Michel Plattini have been found guilty by the FIFA Ethics Committee of wrongdoing and banned from football administration.
Infantino spoke of having started to put in place the promises he made, adding that the key, for him, is to bring football back to FIFA, and FIFA back to football.
He said already the number of Concacaf Representatives on FIFA has moved from three to five, and also increased the number of teams participating in the World Cup to 48.
However, he quickly added that football is not only about winning the World Cup.
“Football is more than just a sport. It teaches you to win, it teaches you to loose, it teaches you to stay in a team, it teaches you respect. It has many, many values that we have to foster,” he said.
Infantino also referred to the commitment given to substantially increase in the Concacaf Region investment money for football development and projects from $19.5 million annually to $60.5 million per year.
The FIFA Boss said that as of last year, the international football body has begun to invest in each football association, including GFA, US 1.25 million per year.
Of this amount, he said that US$500,000 is to be used for operational cost, providing that a certain number of criteria are met, and US$750,000 is earmarked for specific projects.
In addition to this, there is a grant of US$170,000 every four years for equipment for a certain number of associations including GFA, and US$175,000 per year for travel cost.
Sports Minister Roland Bhola who was also on hand at the commissioning of the GFA administrative building reminded the sporting body that there is a lot more to the growth and development of football and sports in general.
Minister Bhola said the local organisation has crossed a major hurdle and the advent of the GFA administrative building will become beneficial to the sporting organisation.
“Most of us here who are homeowners will understand the peace and content that one has when one knows that wherever you are… you carry along with you the keys to your own home and it makes you feel now that you are mature,” he told the ceremony.
However, the senior government minister warned that if the inhabitants of the home do not do what they have to do in a timely manner, that home can be put into disrepute.
The GFA building was contracted out to Cecil Frederick and Associates.