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January 27, 2020

CONIFA’s AGM: looking to the future in Jersey

CONIFA began debating its agenda for the coming decade on day one of its 7th Annual General Meeting, opened in Jersey by Global President Per-Anders Blind and Jersey’s Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture Senator, Steve Pallett.

Steve, whose ministerial responsibilities cover the island’s sport, reflected on Jersey’s rich history of grassroots football – particularly the Jersey Bulls non-league football club – and its fierce sporting rivalry with Guernsey matched only, he claimed, by the Manchester and Liverpool derbies.

Amid the procedural matters and financial reports was a reflection of CONIFA’s many successes over 2019: CONIFA’s new tournament for footballers with disabilities, the CONIFA No Limits European Football Cup in Monaco, the CONIFA EFC in Artsakh, and the substantial growth in membership across Asia, the Americas and Oceania.

Today, CONIFA is a global family of 58 member associations representing 409 million people. It is entirely volunteer-run, built atop the passion and commitment of its members, friends and supporters.

But the job of the AGM was to look forward to CONIFA’s future. Speaking to the delegates, Per-Anders’ asserted that “CONIFA exists to serve its members – you are CONIFA.”

To meet this assertion, he asked the members for their own suggestions for CONIFA’s direction over the next few years. Putting their heads together, they sent a clear message: CONIFA should work to become a more inclusive, transparent organisation that balances its ethical and moral imperative with laws and regulations.

Suggestions were raised about carbon offsetting and reducing CONIFA’s impact on the environment, promoting women’s football, and launching more tournaments outside of Europe.

As it grows, CONIFA faces both challenges and opportunities. The discussions that took place at the AGM expressed a shared desire to meet these challenges with a more future-facing, internationalist and inclusive outlook.

As evidence of that growth and expansion, Mapuche, Rapa Nui, Hawaii, West Papua, Crimea and Elba Island were officially confirmed as members of CONIFA, significantly increasing its range in South America, North America, Asia and Europe.

The long-serving General Secretary Sascha Düerkop was re-elected to rapturous applause, alongside 14 other Executive Committee members, finalising the day’s events.

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By Robin Toal

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