|Sunset...Taj take on New Stars in the 2012 play-off final|
In September 2009 an East Asian Football Federation press release included the news that the PFA had requested to become a quasi-member of the organisation, suggesting Palau were attempting to join FIFA via the Asian Football Confederation much like their Pacific cousins the Northern Marianas are in the process of doing. This intrigued non-FIFA observers but, typically, this request was never heard of again and 4 years on there was no news from the EAFF on the Palauan plea for help. In a further twist to the tale the Palau National Olympic Committee made the shock call last year to tell the PFA that they must join the OFC, not the EAFF.
We spoke to Charles Mitchell to find out the difficulties of his job, and to learn what the future held for his association and national team.
NFFU: Last year the Palau National Olympic Committee told your association that you must join the OFC, instead of the EAFF which you attempted to become quasi-members of in 2009. Why did they make this decision?
CM: The Olympic Committee weren't actually aware that we could apply to join the EAFF, so they made this decision.
NFFU: What was your reaction to this call by the Palau NOC? Would you have rather tried to join the EAFF like Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands?
CM: My first reaction was confusion because of the situation with the Guam National Olympic Committee. They are part of Oceania but Guam Football Association are members of the EAFF.
NFFU: So how have your attempts to join the OFC gone? Have you had good correspondence and communication with them?
|PCC Track & Field Stadium...the only ground in Palau|
CM: There has been no response on the OFC end. We've tried to contact them many times and still we get no response from them.
NFFU: So I guess you aren’t hopeful of becoming OFC members soon?
CM: No. Also, after explaining to the Olympic Committee regarding the EAFF, the OFC does not seem a reasonable option anymore. The Olympic Committee have actually now given us the green light to apply to the EAFF. Once we establish a youth league or programme, then we will re-apply.
NFFU: Palau’s only international outings came at the 1998 Micronesia Games. Football is yet to be confirmed as a sport at the 2014 finals in Pohnpei (Micronesia), but if it is do you plan on taking a Palau team over?
CM: If Pohnpei confirm the sport then there is a high chance we will send a team over.
NFFU: Do you have any preliminary plans to take a national team to the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea in 2015?
CM: Not at this time no. It could be possible though.
NFFU: Are there many Palauan players competing in the league?
CM: At the moment 20% of the players competing in the Palau Football Association Adult League are Palauan.
NFFU: What efforts have the PFA made to develop youth football on the islands?
CM: We are currently running an after-school camp which is well attended. We also hope to start a league in the summer.
|Future...Mitchell conducting one of the popular|
NFFU: It’s great to see the Palau league running with a healthy number of teams. Do you have any plans to expand the league in the future?
CM: Yes we do. There is interest from the Nepalese community on the island and they will put forth a team next season.
NFFU: LA Galaxy defender Sean Franklin recently provided the PFA with some help. What sort of donations did he give and how did you get in touch with him?
CM: Sean provided youth shin-guards and cones. He's a friend of mine – back in California we were teammates at college.
NFFU: We understand football was in a state of despair when you arrived in Palau, how have you managed to get the sport back on track? How hard is it to raise money?
CM: Mainly by staying consistent with the programs and slowly developing them. Our biggest way to raise funds is the after-school camps and leagues. Official fundraisers are still in development.
NFFU: Do you know of any Palauan players based overseas?
CM: Not at this moment I don’t, no.
|Hopeful...Mitchell beleives FIFA|
membership will happen
NFFU: What do you think the next 2 years have in store for the PFA?
CM: The plan is a formed national team, a new youth league and stronger administration.
NFFU: Finally, do you have confidence that you will become FIFA members one day?
CM: Yes I think one day.