The VIVA World Cup is a tournament organised by the New Federation (NF) Board, an umbrella association for teams not affiliated to FIFA. The date and venue for the 2014 edition are expected to be announced on April 21. With members such as Monaco, Northern Cyprus, Zanzibar, Western Sahara and Cascadia (USA/Canada) to name a few, the New Federation Board has successfully hosted five VIVA World Cups with the last edition being held in 2012.
The Board and its product has been growing with approximately 8 million viewing the 2012 showpiece. Along with its product, its membership is also expanding with the recent formation of the West Indies Football Association (WIFA) headed by former professional goalkeeper James Baird. The 30-year-old Baird has played for Scotland at the youth level and been a pro for approximately 10 years. In an exclusive interview with Newsday yesterday, Baird explained the background behind WIFA. “They (NF Board) approached me in June 2013 because they have no Caribbean representative and asked if I would be interested in forming a team from one of the islands or a West Indies team,” he revealed.
Baird made it clear, though, that the NF Board is not a rival to FIFA nor is WIFA looking to usurp the authority of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) or any Caribbean territorial body.
“A lot of the (NF Board) members are not recognised by FIFA and the Board is really like a waiting room for FIFA. They (NF Board) are friends with FIFA, some members end up leaving to join FIFA while others like Monaco decide to stay. We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes because each (Caribbean) island has a national team so guys who are what we call ‘late bloomers’ or for whatever reason didn’t get the chance or maybe just weren’t good enough to make it, we will like to play for us,” he explained. Baird revealed that he has held email discussions with TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee and its general secretary Sheldon Phillips to properly explain their modus operandi to avoid any misconceptions. “We don’t want to steal players or ex-players. If a player does well with the West Indies he can go on and play for the national team at any time. We want to help guys who have never dreamed of playing international football to get to experience it,” he continued.
Baird revealed that already, his organisation has reached out to players and gotten positive feedback from professionals in Sweden, Denmark and even a former English Premier League player. “I want to take it as far as I could take it with academies, full-time coaches and academic/football courses. The (main) academy will be in Trinidad but we will be setting up academies in different islands and really branching out,” he disclosed.
“You’re going to have a full-time programme. We will be seeing the player day-in, day-out. We won’t pick from one country, once you’re from the Caribbean or have a Caribbean passport, you’re eligible. We’re hoping to have friendly matches as well and who knows, maybe next year we can have a West indies versus Trinidad match,” he concluded.
The Executive of the WIFA includes Baird (president), John Furlonge (secretary), Justin Lall (treasurer), Debb Ann Ojar-Baird (legal adviser), Nathan Langaigne (PRO) and Marlon Birkett (Disciplinary Officer). Already, a technical team has been assembled with an international scout, local scout, head coach, assistant coach, goalkeeping specialist and futsal coach. For more information visit www.wifa.ca or check them out on Facebook at “West Indies Football Association.”