In the last post, we told you about Tuvalu, a country that is so small, they have no place to land a jumbo jet, but with dreams so big that they are getting ready to apply to the FIFA for membership.
Paul Driessen is the marketing and communications manager for the Tuvalu Football Association. He is part of a committee that meets in the Netherlands every month to discuss elevating Tuvalu’s position on the sport’s food chain. Driessen has some very concrete steps he believes Tuvalu should take if they are going to succeed on the world stage.
Driessen sees FIFA membership as crucial. It would help Tuvalu have more money to spend on its football program, and give them more reasons to improve things such as their infrastructure.
One of the biggest things, and one we obviously agree with here, is that Tuvalu needs a pitch with an artificial playing surface. Artificial pitches have proven themselves to be the best way to have a field that is always playable, with minimal maintenance costs.
According to Driessen, Tuvalu’s current, natural grass facilities aren’t even good enough for effective practice. An artificial pitch is available for practice and games, 365 days a year. Also, artificial pitches always look good. While looks might not have much to do with playability, they mean a lot when projecting a positive image to the rest of the world.
The other huge component in Driessen’s vision for the future is that he feels Tuvalu must import someone from Europe to head the program on the field. Driessen believes that someone from Europe would help Tuvalu “think in a professional way.”
Driessen uses Tahiti as an example. Tahiti won the OFC Nations Cup this year, which was the first time anyone but Australia or New Zealand has won. Driessen gives much of the credit to French coach Patrick Jaquemet, who has been coaching the Tahitian team for ten years now.
Driessen’s solution: Tuvalu should hire Dutchman Foppe de Haan. De Haan won the UEFA European Championship in 1988, and Driessen feels he is the right man to help Tuvalu transition into FIFA membership.
Driessen sees many other stumbling blocks, such as the lack of world class facilities on the island, but believes that a great on-field product would take Tuvalu a long way.