“We’re slowly gaining interest”: Interview with Palau Football Association (PFA) president Charles Mitchell
The tiny archipelago of Palau may be very little known for its footballing achievements, having never competed in any FIFA tournament nor in any other official competition. But there are ambitious plans, mainly from the local federation, the Palau Football Association (PFA), that could make the future much more different from what we’ve seen so far. Despite having to face some difficulties, such as a restrict population of only 20,000 and the local domination of other sports, especially baseball, almost worshipped as a religion on Palau, president Charles Mitchell and the PFA staff are confident that a proper footballing culture could be set up on the islands in the near future.
Asianoceanianfootball spoke to him to discover future plans, targets and the current progress of football on the remote and tiny – but not demotivated – Palau.
When football was played first in Palau?
As far as I know, football was organized and played in the late 90’s but have heard of football being introduced and played in the early 70’s. In 2002 PFA was officially formed and became a federation under the Palau National Olympic Committee.
How many chances are there to see Palau national football team playing the next South Pacific Games? And Micronesian Games?
There is a great chance to compete in the South Pacific Games. As for the Micronesian Games, it depends on if the host country will add to their program. The biggest challenge for most of the Micronesian islands is putting forth proper officials, playing facilities, and equipment.
How close is Palau from becoming a full member of the EAFF?
At this moment, Palau is at a stand still with the EAFF. An application was submitted in 2008 and no response since. The PFA has no direct contact with the EAFF.
Tuvalu national football team, another non-FIFA member Pacific nation, has improved a lot in last two years thanks to the help of a Dutch foundation created by passioned volunteers in the Netherlands, and now they are very close to get their FIFA membership. Do you think this kind of help from abroad could help Palau? And where Palauan football needs help most?
I do believe this assistance could help. Though in a way it’s kind of a “catch 22” because most of these organizations need for us to provide items we can’t afford such as: plane tickets and accommodations. It’s very difficult to acquire these items being that the PFA is made up of all volunteers and lack of funding. I’d say our biggest need would be human resources and administration.
Which is the state of football in Palau sport hierarchy?
Palau football is currently at the low end of the hierarchy but slowly gaining interest.
Can you give us a presentation of the teams competing in the Palau Soccer League?
All the info can be found on the PFA official website, www.palaufootball.sportingpulse.net
As you are still to become a FIFA member, do you think Palau national team could play in some non-FIFA international tournaments, such as VIVA World Cup or the Islands Games?
We hope, but it is yet to be determined.
How much important are sports in Palauan people’s culture?
Sports play a big role in the Palauan culture. Sports help create character and provide the tools to become a productive citizen of society.
Which are the PFA current primary goals for next months?
Our primary goals are to continue the sustainability of our Adult League and after school clinics as well as create a youth league. There is also an interest to introduce the sport to high schools, but yet to be official.
By Christian Rizzitelli