Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bahrain makes good use of FIFA funding

A three-day seminar arranged by the Bahrain Football Association in co-operation with FIFA's Development Department in Asia is helping to improve football in the Gulf kingdom. Shaikh Ahmed bin Hamad Al Khalifa, representing the BFA's General Organisation for Youth and Sports' development strategy committee told Gulf Daily News that government support for football and funding by sponsors and Fifa's 'Goal' project have played a major role in the national team's success in recent years.

"Previously, our team would only gather together and train for competitions like the Asian Cup, World Cup qualifiers and Gulf Cup. That's not really enough and we often did not do well because of our lack of preparations. We now have a number of good players, and due to better funding, we are able to gather them together on a more regular basis to train and play friendlies," he said.

Another key factor in Bahrain's rise has been the development of a training facility for the national teams, courtesy of funding from Fifa's Goal project. As a result, Bahrain have managed to produce a strong national team composed entirely of home-based players.

"The money was put to good use. We opened the Bahrain Football Association headquarters six years ago and we now have a proper training facility with offices and qualified staff to run it," added Shaikh Ali. "All of our national teams are able to train there and so we can produce good quality players for the Under-17, Under-20 and Olympic teams, who will eventually become first team players," he said.