Dear Editor, I refer to my letter published in CINews on May 8, 2014 titled ‘Good governance in grassroots sport’ and the CIFA response published the next day.
The suggestion that I should write to OFC or CIFA with my concerns is a glib attempt to mislead the public. That has been tried in the past by many others, with nothing to show for it.
We all know what happened in recent times to a brave few who held dissenting views and dared to speak out publicly. At CIFAs instigation, they were banned from the game and received substantial fines. I prefer the freedom of the press thank you, despite threats of legal action.
The need to balance financial resources between men’s, women’s, youth and grassroots football goes without saying. What is of serious concern is the evidence that shows our nearest neighbours, Samoa, Tonga and American Samoa, are doing it ever so much better than us. They are progressing football in their countries while our football is declining.
An example of declining player interest in senior men’s football is the pre-season five-a-side tournament which could only attract eight teams.
I was appalled to learn from the CIFA response that the national men’s team will only play every four years. In my opinion, this is a sad indictment on the administration of CI football and its leadership. What is required is innovation and thinking outside the box, before it is too late.
What doesn’t make sense to me from a financial perspective, is why a team was sent on a non-essential overseas junket to Surfers Paradise at a cost believed to be in excess of $60,000, preparing for an OFC U17 campaign last year which cost CIFA even more money. I am told that $60,000 is more than what is allocated to all the clubs and island associations annually.
Was reference to the Just Play programme an attempt to mislead the public? My understanding is that CIFA receives separate funding for that programme, which is not a charge on its operational budget.
Similarly, was reference to new football infrastructure an attempt to mislead the public? If this was alluding to the new football administration and education centre built on Aitutaki, wasn’'t the capital cost met by the FIFA Goal Project and therefore not a charge on CIFAs operational budget.
Mr Harmon once worked in the Audit Office and must know the different audit types. Where in my original letter did I make any reference to financial audit? Was this an attempt to mislead the public? What was said was: “The CIFA Executive has no reason not to know what organisational, operational and performance audits are ….” and: “A thorough and independent review of this organisation is exactly what needs to happen now and no excuses for delay.”
Mr Harmon, you are on record having said that the football clubs have no rules and regulations at all. How can clubs function without rules and regulations, which should be readily available to their memberships. This is a most basic requirement, which someone in your role well knows.
With proper rules and regulations, the clubs can function to a standard now demanded by the football grassroots. The question of who has voting rights would also be made crystal clear. These are fundamentals which should be CIFA’s highest priority to get in place. I ask again, what is the timetable to put this right?
If, in the future, Mr Harmon elects not to respond to letters published in the free press, that is his right, but to the detriment of football and any other representative activity he decides to be involved in.
My moral compass drives me to tell the community what they are entitled to know, to seek answers and to raise awareness. If that meets the displeasure of some, too bad, because information is not the exclusive province of a privileged few.