Meet Mariya – CONIFA’s newest member

The most recent addition to the CONIFA family comes from Oceania – say ‘hello’ to Mariya!

Australian First Nations Mariya, the FA’s full name, represents the indigenous peoples of Australia. The team made its international debut earlier this year in the ‘Clash of Culture’ series, when the Mariya men and women’s sides took on the Aotearoa Football side, representing New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. The men’s side lost 3-2, while the women went down 5-0 to their Kiwi opponents.

Now Mariya are hungry for more international football.

“This membership will give our First Nations peoples an opportunity to showcase their unique abilities and skills at an international level. Our people seem to have a natural ability to excel in football. We are very honoured to become members of CONIFA,” Mariya’s chairman, Bernie McLeod, explains.

Mariya has played a big part in the National Indigenous Football Championship in Shoalhaven, New South Wales, and McLeod hopes the FA can use its CONIFA membership to show its culture to the world.

He continues. “After three years of successfully organising the National Indigenous Football Championships, we thought joining CONIFA would be a unique experience to further discover great talents and become even more competitive. Indigenous footballers have added plenty of excitement and a degree of unpredictability and the ‘X’ factor to this tournament, which makes us deadly!

“By becoming members of CONIFA, our players look forward to representing our people and culture abroad with pride.”

CONIFA’s General Secretary to Asia, Oscar Mussons, has kept an eye on the Mariya team and believes it will be a great addition to CONIFA.
“I got in touch with Bernie and his team a year ago. During this time, I have witnessed and admired the growth and popularity of the National Indigenous Football Championships… When I offered Mariya the opportunity to become members of our CONIFA family, I knew they were more than ready to take it to the next level.”

Exciting times for the Mariya team, as they join fellow Oceania members Kiribati and Tuvalu in CONIFA! Welcome!

Did you know?

The Mariya team begins matches with a ‘Corroboree’, a traditional ceremonial dream time dance, led by the rhythmic tapping of clapping sticks. It depicts the movements of emus and kangaroos.

Welcome to Kernow!

This beautiful region is the latest member of CONIFA – find out more about Kernow FA here

-written by Pat McGuinness / photo credit: Kernow Drone @ Lee Pascoe


The English county of Cornwall is known the world over for its stunning scenery, its surfing, its fishing and its former tin industry, and the region has been immortalised in song, poetry and prose.

Over half-a-million people live in Cornwall, and over ninety-nine percent of them speak English as their mother tongue. The native language, Cornish, became extinct in the 19th century. However, a revival began to take shape in the late 1980s, and now around 300 people speak Cornish as a first language, and some 5,000 have a basic working knowledge of the language.

Cornwall has always been a fairly isolated region, located as it is in the extreme south-west corner of England and bordered on three sides by water. That isolation has also long been the case for football, but now Cornwall’s footballers, with the blessing of the Cornwall Football Association, are about to step out of the shadows. And it’s all thanks to the recent founding of the Kernow Football Alliance (Kernow FA), which was officially created on 27th October 2018.

Kernow FA is the brainchild of its director of football Andrew Bragg, who explains that he was chatting with his son, Josh, over dinner in 2016; Josh was playing for a club in Sweden at the time, and mentioned that one of his team-mates had played for the Sápmi side at a previous CONIFA World Football Cup.

“As I’d never heard of either”, Bragg says, “I asked him to explain… and it occurred to me that the Cornish were also a race. So, over the next few months, I started to investigate our eligibility [for CONIFA membership], and after speaking to CONIFA general secretary Sascha Duerkop, set in motion the formation of Kernow FA.”

Allied with Bragg in the creation of Kernow FA was Jason Heaton who, amongst other things, organised freestyle football events in the town of Newquay. Shortly after hearing about Andrew’s plans early in 2017, he contacted CONIFA president Per-Anders Blind to find out more about CONIFA, and eventually became CONIFA’s global business director.

Bragg says, “I had known Jason for many years through both football and business. He was just the sort of innovative person I would like to have involved.

“We carried on trying to form a Cornwall team but got bogged down with bureaucracy… but we kept plugging away and on 27th October, Kernow FA was formed. The primary reason for creating Kernow FA was to get Cornish football onto the international stage, and to make people aware what a great nation we are.”

Famous Cornish footballers are relatively few and far between, but include the likes of ex-England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn, Mike Trebilcock – whose double won the FA Cup for Everton in 1966 – and Chris Morris, who played for the Republic of Ireland at the 1988 European Championships and the 1990 World Cup. Bragg is well aware of this, and says, “That would be something we would like to improve upon, but with no professional clubs in Cornwall it will be difficult to achieve.

“No clubs have yet become [Kernow FA] members, but we’ll pick our players from local leagues. I’ve also spoken to a few of the Cornishmen playing professional football who are also interested but it’ll depend on their clubs.”

Any players representing Kernow FA will, according to Bragg, “have to have been born in Cornwall. The staff – including Heaton, manager Phil Lafferty and also Darren Wright, who worked with the Panjab FA until after this year’s World Football Cup – are not all Cornish but I didn’t see that as an issue… The important thing is the players.”

“We will evolve obviously, but our first objective is to qualify for the 2020 CONIFA World Football Cup… We haven’t got our own stadium yet but there is a stadium for Cornwall in the pipeline so I would like to think we could use that in the future.”

The last word goes to Heaton, who has been involved with youth football in Cornwall for over 10 years and says: “Football is my life and my children play football here, too. Because of how Cornwall is geographically, it’s tough for players to represent Cornwall at a professional level via what is a great football infrastructure, one that Cornwall FA should be very proud of, one in which I play a part. But [Kernow FA] can offer something they can’t, and it’s something we need – international football in a place that I know and love as a great football family, one that is about people: CONIFA. It’s exactly what Cornwall needs for players to look up to, for the good of the game and for the next generation.”

Sapmi Take Historic Win in First Women’s Match

History was made with Sapmi’s victory over Northern Cyprus

– written by Ola Bjerkevoll


The first ever CONIFA women’s match took place when Northern Cyprus hosted FA Sapmi on Saturday 10th November 2018.

The match was billed as the ‘Women’s Friendship Cup’, and there was a friendly atmosphere ahead of the game, with the two teams even having lunch together on match day.

The teams were welcomed out on the pitch by a loud home crowd at a packed Temmuz Stadium in the Northern Cypriot capital of Kyrenia.

Sapmi took charge

But the home crowd, and those watching the match live on TV, had to see that it was the guests from the very north of Europe that took the initiative from the start.

Several good chances were wasted or saved by the Northern Cyprus goalkeeper before Sigrun Linaker Dybek broke the deadlock after 27 minutes.

A nicely executed finish saw the visitors take the lead, but even though they kept piling on the pressure, the Northern Cyprus defence held firm.

A strong defensive effort saw the teams go into the dressing room at half time with the score still 1-0.

Impressive second half

Across the second half, the pressure would eventually be too much for Northern Cyprus.

Emilie Kristensen put Sapmi 2-0 up just before the hour mark, and Sandra Simonsen added the guest’s third after 65 minutes.

The match died down a little after that, but in added time Christina Elise Blind padded the scoreline by notching her first and Sapmi’s fourth of the evening.

There were no hard feelings after the match as both teams were all smiles. Both teams were given medals and Sapmi got their first piece of silverware for their trophy cabinet.


North Cyprus – FA Sapmi 0-4
(SAP: 27’ Sigrun Linaker Dybek, 57’ Emilia Kristensen, 65′ Sandra Simonsen, 90+1′ Christina Elise Blind)

Şakir Azizoğlu

Four ways you can help Rohingya FC

CONIFA are supporting Rohingya FC, who need assistance with equipment, kit and so much more. Find out how you can help the Malaysia-based refugee team here…


The Rohingya people, described as ‘the world’s most persecuted people’ by the United Nations, have their own football team – Rohingya FC – based in their asylum city of Kuala Lumpur. Founded in 2015, and a member of CONIFA, the team aims to give a voice to Rohingya people who have fled from Myanmar, their home country, and to support and promote a message of peace and harmony across the globe.

Because Rohingyans cannot hold bank accounts, or even work, the team struggles to fund itself, and so CONIFA has stepped in to assist the team in its work.

Here are four ways you can support Rohingya FC via CONIFA’s activities or events…


1/ Donate to Rohingya FC

CONIFA’s Asia President has set up a Go Fund Me page where you can donate directly to the fund for Rohingya FC. The money raised for them will be used to purchase and deliver kit directly to the team, as well as set up training events and tournaments. Go here to donate.


2/ Bid for a spot in the CONIFA All-stars football team – and play in the CONIFA Challenger Cup!

Fancy yourself as the new Podolski, Drogba or Kante? If so, you can bid on a place in the CONIFA All-stars football team – and play in the CONIFA Challenger Cup. The tournament takes place in the Cologne region on 1-3 March 2019, and if you’re one of the successful bidders, you’ll also get to keep your team jersey as a memento of the day, and have dinner with the CONIFA team too. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you’d like to show off your Cruyff turns or your Panenka penalty kick, you can bid (or buy your place outright) on eBay here or you can buy your place on the team outright for €250! Get in touch via CONIFA’s Facebook page to find out more.

All money raised from the auction will go to the Rohingya FC appeal; bids start at €100.


3/ Buy a VIP, access-all-areas pass for the CONIFA European Football Cup 2019

Taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh in June 2019, the CONIFA European Football Cup promises to be a true footballing spectacle. There will be just four VIP, access-all-areas passes for sale to the public for the tournament; for just €200 each, you will be allowed in to as many matches as you can watch, plus be allowed to go wherever you like within the stadium (the referees’ room, dressing rooms, and other areas at the discretion of the stadiums’ staff aren’t included in this). You’ll be able to check out CONIFA’s top European teams at close quarters, and enjoy a footballing feast to remember. Tickets will be on sale soon, so check back regularly for updates, but if you would like to register your interest in advance, get in touch with CONIFA via its Facebook page. All money raised from the VIP tickets will go directly to Rohingya FC.


4/ Go on to eBay; buy some unique football memorabilia

If you love your football, then keep a close eye on the CONIFA eBay auction page. This is regularly updated with football memorabilia (right now, it is auctioning off match-prepared jerseys, World Cup 2006 flags and more!) and all money raised from the auctions will go to Rohingya FC.

So what are you waiting for? Thank you for your support – all money raised will be gratefully received by the Rohingya FC team.

CONIFA Tie Up A Partnership With Boots2Africa

CONIFA is proud to announce its partnership with Boots2Africa, providing football boots to CONIFA member teams in need

– by Ola Bjerkevoll

On the announcement of the partnership with CONIFA, Boots2Africa co-founder Iain Finch said:

“We’re delighted to be working with CONIFA, supporting children, young adults and organisations across the independent football nation world to play better football with boots, kits and accessories donated by their #grassrootsheroes contemporaries in the United Kingdom.”

Despite Boots2Africa being a young organisation, Finch believes it can make a real difference.

The UK-based, not-for-profit has been in operation since 2015 and aims to bring one million football boots to Africa by 2030.

“We’re a young charity, only in our third full year of operation, but with over 100 clubs, schools and organisations supporting us here, we hope to do some real good for those in the poorest nations in the world with this partnership.”

CONIFA member development manager Paul Watson is delighted with the partnership and the opportunity it presents.

“Many of CONIFA’s members struggle to get even the most basic of equipment; by nature CONIFA works with many groups who are stateless, voiceless and persecuted, and who can’t get access to finance or equipment.

“Thanks to the kind assistance of Boots2Africa, we will be able to provide much-needed kit to players all over the world who otherwise would have nothing.”

CONIFA aims to begin the partnership with Boots2Africa by providing boots to Western Sahara and (despite being in Asia) Rohingya.

If you’d like to get involved in the Boots2Africa partnership, email or go to to find out more.