Fiji Football Association has launched the Vodafone Fiji National U16 Youth League with a theme “Mission 2026”
Fiji FA technical director Ravinesh Kumar said the Vodafone U16 Youth League was a pathway to the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
“This launch is a special one because we have focused with a short and long term goal, “Kumar said.
Kumar said the short term goal was the next National under 16 team for Fiji which would participate in next year’s OFC under 17 Qualifiers.
“We are starting the U16 league this year to identify the best talents who can represent Fiji next year.”
The long term objective, he said was the Mission 2026.
“In the next eight years you will be ready to play for Fiji in the World Cup qualifications and as you have heard it is two and half spots and that half spot means a lot to Fiji Football.”
Kumar said they would focus on the theme from now and would not wait for 2024 or 2025 to start preparation.
“We have started preparing now and majority of these players will be seen at the 2026 FIFA World Cup and these is the beginning of it.”
Kumar said that was why this launch was a one of the special one.
“We have done lot of launchings before and this one is special because we are starting with a project and that is the “Mission 2026”
Kumar elaborated more on the development pathway on the players.
“We started this process in 2015 with the Center of Excellences and this year our U18s are in the third year of development stage and the U16s are in their second year of development stage.”
He said majority of the U 16 players had come up from the Development Center competitions in the U12 and U14 grades and this year they would be participating in the U16 National League.
Kumar said next year these players would participate in the under 17 league and 2019 they would play in the under 18 league.
“So the progression is there for the players now and they will have year by year to show their worth.”
Kumar said that the national football coach was implementing new football philosophy and said he wanted possession based football.
“We all agree with that because that is the best football style and philosophy Fiji can adopt as majority of the giants in the world are adopting today,”
He said they were trying to implement the new philosophy of football with the U16 teams and they needed possession based football.
“Come 2026 will see ourselves at the FIFA World Cup.”
Kumar urged players to show commitment and dedication to football to become better players.
“You continue playing football, you commit a lot of time to football and these will give us more talented players.”
Kumar requested the players, coaches, parents, teachers, district officials and the general public to take full advantage of the U16 Boys and Girls Youth League.
He said Fiji FA was giving everything to the districts and to the players to take part in the U16 Youth League.
“They have given all training logistics, training equipment, training facilities, together with the coaches’ allowances, players travelling allowances and during the match day Fiji FA caters for everything.”
Kumar said the teams just needed to come and participate in the competition as all logistics was taken care off.