CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb (right) with Ligue de Football de La Guyane Francaise President Marcel Bafau on April 9, 2014, in Cayenne, French Guiana.
CAYENNE, French Guiana – One year after his first official visit to the French Caribbean, CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb journeyed to French Guiana to meet with football leaders in that region on Wednesday.
Government and football representatives from French Guiana -- along with members of the French Football Federation and Ligue de Football de la Martinique -- attended a gathering with President Webb, where they delivered a progress reports on the sport in French territories. This comes almost one year after being accepted as full members at the CONCACAF Congress in Panama.
“The French territories have shown their commitment to developing football in their region,” said Webb. “With their integration into the CONCACAF region as full members, they now have further capacity to develop the game.”
French Guiana Football Federation (GFF) President Marcel Bafau expressed his appreciation to President Webb for following through on his promise to visit and assess the programmes first hand.
“This is the first time in the history of CONCACAF that its President has visited our territory,” said Bafau. “Mr. Webb’s attendance is very important to us because we have been working on our development and progress for years, and we have finally gotten the chance to put our work to the rest of the region.
“President Webb has heard our problems and provided us with workable solutions to several of them, which we will work tirelessly to implement. We have to do the job.”
A pressing action item to emerge was the need for a purpose-built technical facility that would assist the French speaking territories, French Guiana in particular, with the development of its youth programmes.
GFF Second Vice President Bernard Lama, a former France international goalkeeper and 1998 World Cup winner, petitioned for assistance with its construction.
“The federation has five hectares of land from the council of France, but we need funding,” commented Lama. “Without funding we can’t build a facility for the next generation of French Guiana footballers.”
Webb supported that proposition, saying he would seek assistance for them from FIFA in areas of development and that CONCACAF would do its best to provide much needed resources as well.
Bernard Desumer, the French Football Federation’s First Vice President, also backed the need for infrastructural development.
“I compare a football player to a musician, if he doesn’t have good instruments he won’t progress,” Desumer told the member associations. “The first stone that we should lay is the construction of a technical centre for the benefit of not just French Guiana, but Martinique and Guadeloupe as well.”
The forum was designed to update CONCACAF on the French territories’ plans for the next year and tackle issues related to resources, inter-regional travel, infrastructure, financing, competition, education and player development.
“French Caribbean officials have worked tirelessly to bring their standards and processes in line with the rest of the region, so this trip was timely and important to hear about their challenges, and work together to provide solutions,” Webb concluded.