Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Football associations in the Cosafa region will no longer have to go all the way to Zurich in Switzerland to get their development issues sorted out after Fifa opened a regional office at Safa House in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Fifa‚ through their Forward Programme‚ is helping member associations with their grassroots development support and the launch of the Southern African offices in Johannesburg will help speed up funding to the associations in need.

“The office will function as the link between the member associations in the Cosafa region with Fifa in ensuring delivery‚” said David Fani‚ who will manage the office in Johannesburg.

Fani‚ the former president of the Botswana Football Association‚ said their role will be to facilitate the member associations’ fulfilment of the programme requirements and ensure applications for funding are properly done.

“From the application to implementation of the programme we will manage the project to ensure that it is completed in time.”

Fani said the centrality of Johannesburg to other Cosafa regions was the main reason Fifa decided to have their offices at Safa House.

“Fifa has 10 such offices and very soon there will be 11 regional offices globally at strategically placed venues.

“In Africa we will have three but currently we have two‚ which is one in SA and in Dakar‚ Senegal. The third one will be in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

“SA is the hub and it is a lot easier to reach for a lot of countries because of the fact that there are a lot of flights to and from Johannesburg.”

Safa president Danny Jordaan said his association was thrilled to have been given the opportunity of hosting Fifa.

“This office will help the associations in particular in accessing development funding‚” said Jordaan.

“From next year Fifa will have $5m available for each national association.

“What that means is that you must develop sound developmental programmes and very often in the past only those associations with the ability to put proposals together were given funding. This office will provide that service. So it’s a huge opportunity for the region.”