Safety first as NFABD President sheds lights on programme cancellation

James Kon

President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Pengiran Haji Matusin bin Pengiran Haji Matasan yesterday expressed disappointment over the parents of several players in the under-18 team, who were unhappy with the NFABD’s decision to withdraw from the JENESYS Football Festival Championship in Japan.

In a press conference at the NFABD House, Pengiran Haji Matusin acknowledged that the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has affected the NFABD programme, especially those in the under-18 national team, who were supposed to depart for Japan last Saturday.

He explained, “The decision to cancel the NFABD’s team participation in Japan was made following careful consultation with the Executive Committee, after taking into account several aspects, mainly advice from the Prime Minister’s Office; the Embassy of Japan in Brunei Darussalam; the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Japan; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; and periodic news updates.

“We understand that the decision to cancel the participation was not easy, but it had to be done for the boys’ safety.”

He continued, “We also understood that if the team returned after participating in the JENESYS Football Festival, they would be subjected to 14 days of quarantine, which means they would miss school for another 14 days.

President of NFABD Pengiran Haji Matusin bin Pengiran Haji Matasan (C) and executive committee members of NFABD at the press conference. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“We have a number of parents who are unhappy with the decision to cancel our participation in the JENESYS Football Festival. They believe that we reached this decision without any prior consultation, which is wrong.”

He added, “I feel that the parents who disagree with this decision are selfish and irresponsible. They should leave the decision to the NFABD, instead of trying to interfere. We would not have cancelled the trip without a valid reason. “

Asked about Brunei’s chances of co-hosting the 2034 World Cup, he said, “ASEAN aspires to host the 2034 World Cup. As far as I know, Brunei was asked if we would like to be in the organising committee. This matter needs to be taken into consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

“The NFABD would be one of the key stakeholders to lend an opinion on whether Brunei should host one or two games for the World Cup, if ASEAN gets to host the World Cup in 2034.

“Hosting a World Cup event is not easy. There are high standards of requirements to adhere to. If we are seriously considering hosting the 2034 World Cup, I think we better get our heads together to look at infrastructure and our football standards, so that we can be a good host.”

At the 7th NFABD Extraordinary Congress for 2020, on February 15, one of the issues raised was the sub-standard quality of the football pitches in Brunei.

Pengiran Haji Matusin said, “The Brunei League will kick off on Friday, and before we assign the games for play on the pitches, our technical committee will inspect the venues to ensure that the pitches are up to standard for the Brunei League.”

He added, “You must realise that our pitches in Brunei are not 100 per cent of what we would expect but they are safe enough to play on. Insya Allah, over time, we can contribute to the upgrading of some pitches through financial assistance from FIFA and AFC.

“This year, we will upgrade our own facilities in the NFABD. We will upgrade our floodlights for the artificial turf and install new floodlights at the grass field. We are building more car parks and looking into other infrastructures that will benefit our stakeholders, especially the teams.”