The Fiji Football Association says about 400 players will be
financially assisted by the regional OFC Solidarity Fund aimed at
helping families reliant on the sport’s income.

CEO Mohammed Yusuf said the fund would relieve financial pressure off those directly affected by Covid-19 and Cyclone Harold.

“When Covid-19 hit and competitions came to a standstill, these
people were left without any payments coming their way and we realise
how difficult it is for them to survive under these circumstances,” he
said.

Each of OFC’s 11 member associations could access over $US31,000 for
food assistance for anybody directly affected by Covid-19 and those who
lost property due to Cyclone Harold, according to Yusuf.

He said almost 400 players applied and qualified for assistance in
various categories including food and hygiene packs, loss of income,
medical allowances and self-isolation costs.

“We sent out about seven teams to go throughout the country [and] it took about three weeks to cover all areas.”

“Now the Board of Fiji FA has given approval for us to apply through the appropriate channels to OFC for funding and once the funds are in we will tender it to the companies that supply food, building materials, and then we will start distribution to go directly to those players who are affected including any staff, volunteers, referees and coaches,” Yusuf said.

While some players had been able to receive government payments,
Yusuf said it wasn’t enough, leaving some of the clubs to rally behind
those who were really struggling.

“A team in the north, the other island in Labasa, the association
supporters pitched in to pay their players at least half their weekly
allowances so they can put food on the table.”

“…a couple of other clubs did manage, but how long they can continue that support is a matter of our concern.”

Yusuf said the sooner restrictions were lifted and competitions got
underway in Fiji again, the sooner the players could get back on their
feet.

The FA is anticipating a government decision soon as to when football can resume.

“The quicker we get back to playing football, that will ease a lot of burden on those players.”

“We are awaiting the governments directive on that but we have revised our calendar to start our journey.

“In June if and when the government allows contact sports to continue then tentatively we have scheduled the premier league, senior league and women’s league to kick-off on July 1.”

RNZ

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