Akoitai calls for probe into funding allocated by FIFA to build a soccer academy in Bougainville

BUKA, 28 NOVEMBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai has made an appeal to the PNG Football Association to investigate funds allocated by FIFA to build a soccer academy in the autonomous region.

Akoitai made the call after watching the Arawa Soccer Association grand final over the weekend. The PNG Football Association president John Kapi Natto was also present to witness the finals.

It is believed a ground breaking ceremony took place in November, 2013 to start the project in Manetai, a village located a few minutes’ drive out of Arawa in Central Bougainville.

The project was expected to kick off in March, 2014 but nothing has been done since.

The project, with counterpart funding from the Autonomous Bougainville Government and FIFA is believed to be worth US$1.2 million (K3.6 million) then.

It is also believed that FIFA will chip in US$600,000 (K1.8 million) while the balance would be met by the ABG under a counterpart funding arrangement.

“I was there to witness that and we contributed to the clearing and ground breaking ceremony but we haven’t seen anything after that and we are still in the dark,” Fabian Kotsin, a current ABG official, who is also the sports coordinator in the region, said in an interview recently.

Kotsin said for ground breaking ceremony alone, K341,000 was used while another K150,000 was allocated by the regional member Joel Lera.

Akoitai said sports plays an important role in the community and it was important that they have proper facilities to help the youths enhance and build their skills and knowledge.

“Soccer can play a major role in uniting our people because we are going through the process of reconciliation. We need to help each other and contribute towards reconciliation because after so many lives were lost during the crisis and we have also suffered for the last 10 years,” Akoitai said.

“(We, Bougainvilleans, hear a lot of announcements that such money (funding) will come to us but it gets diverted elsewhere…we don’t know).

“President John Kapi Natto, one of the biggest issues that are killing PNG is corruption and corruption is also happening in respective sporting organisations but I believe you are the right man to fight and weed corruption out in sports particularly in soccer.

“On behalf of the people of Central Bougainville and AROB as whole, I make this as an official request that you (John Kapi Natto) investigate where the FIFA funding that was supposed to build the soccer academy here has gone to and let us know.”

Bougainville Football Federation president Justin Helele said the people of Bougainville are aware of the ground breaking ceremony and the AROB government counter funded the project with some money while also providing the land to build the academy, however, that has never eventuated.

Kapi Natto said he will do his best to find out where that money went to and why the academy wasn’t built.

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