Category: ConIFA

Women’s Rep Showcase: Karen FA (WUFA / CONIFA)

In a new series of articles, International Surrey Football will be providing an introduction to a number of the already established teams International Surrey Football’s first women’s team could face at some point in the future. Starting with the Karen Football Association.

The Karen Football Association was founded in Minnesota, USA in 2018 and represents the Karen people, primarily located in Burma, South East Asia. The Karen people began to inhabit what eventually became Burma about two thousand years ago. They traveled from Tibet and China and settled largely in the hills bordering the eastern mountainous region of Burma. In the 8th and 9th centuries, the Burmese also began migrating to the area north of what is now the Karen state. Ethnic groups around this region included the Mon, Shan, Thai, Burmese, and Karen. When the British colonized Burma in 1886, these groups all became part of Burma.

The Karen people are a marginalised group in Burma with many living in refugee camps in neighbouring Thailand due to persecution, and many have gone on to relocate and resettle in other parts of the world including the United States, Australia, Canada, England, and Norway.

The Karen Football Association is based in the United States and is the official governing body of the Karen Women’s and Men’s National Soccer Teams. KFA aims to develop a program that unites the community’s passion for football with the importance of gender equity. As an organization, and a team, they feel that it is their responsibility to be an influential role model for others; teaching their culture, and society, that women and men will always be on an equal playing field.

The Karen FA is one of just four members of the World Unity Football Alliance, including Surrey, to organise a senior women’s team prior to joining the alliance, making the Karen FA one of Surrey’s primary targets for potential full internationals, and we hope to travel to Minnesota, or elsewhere, to potentially play the Karen FA in a future fixture.

Karen FA website: https://karenfa.com/
Karen FA Twitter: https://twitter.com/karen__fa
Karen FA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karenfootballassociation
Karen FA Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenfootballassociation/

Women’s Representative Showcase: Introduction

In a new series of articles in the build up to Surrey’s first women’s trial game in early 2021, we’ll be giving an overview of the various women’s teams that currently exist around the world that Surrey could compete against, we’ll be excluding full FIFA members from this list as we look to introduce supporters into the many areas of representative football that they may not know about.

Non-FIFA

The first category we’ll be looking at are non-FIFA teams, this will include teams not affiliated to a national or regional FA recognised by FIFA, typically a member of the World Unity Football Alliance (WUFA), such as Surrey, or the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA).

Currently operated teams;

Darfur United (WUFA)
Karen FA (WUFA / CONIFA)
Matabeleland FA (WUFA / CONIFA)
Northern Cyprus KTFF (CONIFA)
Occitania FA (CONIFA)
Padania FA (CONIFA)
FA Sápmi (CONIFA)
Somaliland (CONIFA)

Proposed new teams;

Cascadia (WUFA / CONIFA)

Other teams may have been proposed, but either not recently or no substantial progress towards playing a debut.

Island Games

The islands games in a biannual sporting competition participated in by 24 different island regions and Gibraltar which includes a men and women’s football tournament. In total 18 different women’s teams have participated in the Women’s section of the tournament, in 2019 due to limited facilities in Gibraltar, Ynys Môn hosted a substitute football tournament, the 2019 Inter Games Football Tournament with 6 participating women’s teams.

2019 Inter Games Football Tournament Participants;

Gibraltar
Hitra (Norway)
Isle of Man
Jersey
Western Isles
(Scotland)
Ynys Môn (Anglesey, Wales)

Other Women’s Teams that have Participated but may no Longer be Active;

Åland Islands (Finland)
Bermuda
Faroe Islands
Gotland
(Sweden)
Greenland
Guernsey
Isle of Wight
(England)
Menorca (Spain)
Prince Edward Island (Canada)
Rhodes (Greece)
Saaremaa (Estonia)
Shetland (Scotland)

Military FAs

Each service branch within the British Armed Forces run their own county football association responsible for running football activities within each respective branch and will typically compete against each other in the annual Inter-Services Tournament as well as against other county FA teams.

British Military Branches with Football Associations;

British Army FA (based in Aldershot)
Royal Air Force FA (based in RAF Brize Norton)
Royal Navy FA (based in Portsmouth)

County FAs

As well as the 3 Military FAs and 3 crown dependencies which all operate as county FAs within the English FA, various other county FAs within England operate county representative football teams. County FA compete in competitions between each other, the Southern Counties Competition (including the 3 Military FAs and Jersey) and South & West Counties Championship Competition.

County FAs running Women’s teams

Devon FA (SWCC)
Dorset FA (SWCC)
Essex FA (SCC)
Gloucestershire FA (SWCC)
Kent FA (SCC)
Middlesex FA (SCC)
Somerset FA (SWCC)
Sussex FA (SCC)

Matabeleland – History Makers

CONIFA is the Confederation of Independent Football Associations and they exist to promote and support all football federations that are not associated under the FIFA umbrella.  The 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup was held in London last month.

There were many fantastic stories surrounding the tournament but one of the most heartwarming had to be that of Matabeleland (a team that represents the people of regions in western Zimbabwe) winning their first ever international match.

Matabeleland’s story is an epic tale and the fact that they made it to London at all makes the story even more special.  With no sponsorship or government support, they relied on crowdfunding and the sale of their incredibly original replica shirts to raise the necessary money to allow them to travel and compete.  There were visa issues, a pre-tournament tour of South Africa was cancelled due to red tape and the flights to London, which had been held for several weeks, were released by the airline (as the full cost had still to be raised).

Despite the numerous setbacks the team got to Heathrow and team manager Justin Walley could at last put his mind to the task ahead, getting the team ready to play football. 

Once the football started, Matabeleland were always at a disadvantage because the 3G pitches they were to play on were a far cry from the dry, rocky pitches back in Zimbabwe.  The team only had one training session before they were thrown into action against Padania, one of the favourites and reigning CONIFA European Cup Champions.  Matabeleland held their own until a disappointing 6 minute spell before half time saw them concede 3 goals.  Padania went on to win 6-1, although Thabiso Ndlela did score Matabeleland’s first ever international goal.

In their second match Matabeleland faced another experienced European side, Székely Land.  The team from Zimbabwe started excellently but were unable to deal with a 30th minute red card for their goalkeeper and went on to lose 5-0.

This brings us to a beautiful Sunday evening at Haringey.  A good crowd was in attendance for the match between Tuvalu and Matabeleland and there was an air of anticipation among the fans from Zimbabwe.  Despite Tuvalu also struggling in the CONIFA World Football Cup, this was a team who had beaten two FIFA affiliated teams as recently as last December (Tonga and New Caledonia) and were coming into the match with a point to prove.

The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides looking to attack and things got interesting in the 2nd minute when the Matabeleland goalkeeper went down after a late tackle by an onrushing Tuvalu attacker.  Liverpool legend, Bruce Grobbelaar (who has been helping with coaching duties since the team arrived in the UK), had been named in the Matabeleland match day squad, so the crowd suggested that the 60 year old goalkeeper should be warming up! 

The opening exchanges showed a stark contrast between the sides.  The Pacific Islanders were strong and physical while Matabeleland played with a youthful energy and attacking intent. 

In the 25th minute, some intricate passing set Goodwill Ndlovu free down the left and his perfectly weighted cross was met by Shylock Ndlovu who made no mistake from 6 yards out. 

The lead did not last long.  After a great touch and turn by Okilani Tinilau, he slid an inch perfect ball through to Etimoni Timuani who emphatically smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

As half time approached, Matabeleland forward Thabiso Ndlela robbed a defender of the ball before playing it across to his strike partner Shylock Ndlovu who scored his second of the match.

The history books could start to be written in the 90th minute when Thomas Nkomo was bundled over in the box and Sipho Mlalazi dispatched the penalty to jubilant scenes on the pitch, in the stands and in the Matabeleland dugout.

“Goosebumps!” said an ecstatic Walley after the match, “we’ve just beaten a country, not only a CONIFA team but we’ve beaten an actual country”.  When asked what he said to the players, Walley explained that he had instilled into them the importance of a victory. “If this team continues for another 100, or 125 years, this group of players can say they were the first to get the win.  They could go down in history.”  Matabeleland – History Makers.

You can read more about our experiences at the CONIFA World Cup at www.awaydayneutrals.com

2021 Southern Frontier Cup: What we know already

Due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural edition of the Southern Frontier Cup was forced to be postponed, this had forced a number of changes to the Southern Frontier Cup. However, there are already a number of details that can already be confirmed will occur for the rescheduled 2021 tournament.

Venue and Dates

In 2020 Whyteleafe Football Club was announced as the venue for the inaugural competition, when International Surrey Football reached the difficult decision to postpone the tournament, it was necessary to notify Whyteleafe FC of the decision before any public announcement was made, but as part of this notification, both ISF and Whyteleafe FC, were quick to reopen discussions when appropriate to ensure Whyteleafe FC was announced as the venue for the rescheduled 2021 edition. Official confirmation will be made later this year when possible.

While the official dates of the tournament wont be confirmed until discussions with Whyteleafe FC reopen later this year, it is realistic to expect a 2-day period in May 2021, following the conclusion 2020/21 non-league club season, and ideally before next summer’s main ConIFA tournament. The scheduling of the 2021 Muratti Vase will also be considered to account for the expected participation of the Parishes of Jersey.

Participants

The 2020 edition was due to feature Cascadia, Parishes of Jersey and Yorkshire, alongside hosts Surrey. With the forced rescheduling of the tournament, International Surrey Football has given each participant and renewed invite to reenter the tournament for the 2021 edition without any obligation that a team should feel required to do so. Should a team decide to leave the Southern Frontier Cup, then an alternative team will be looked into, but only should a team voluntarily leaves, with all 3 teams, currently anticipated to return, subject to confirmations at a later date.

Tickets

Following the decision to postpone the competition, International Surrey Football automatically refunded all tickets for the original dates, while new dates are currently undecided. It is hoped that once new dates for the tournament are agreed, early bird tickets will restart, although new start and end dates for their sale may be introduced before tickets go to full price may be introduced, with tickets expected to be available earlier, then last year.

Ticket prices, both for early bird and full prices will remain the same, with changes to Surrey Supporter Club and even discounts for NHS staff expected to be announced before tickets are released. Sales of extras will also be reviewed with commemorative physical tickets that can be exchanged during the tournament, are expected to be available from the beginning.

Sponsorship

A number of sponsorship for the 2020 competition had already been purchased before it was postponed. All existing sponsors will retain their sponsorship. However, to support businesses during a difficult financial time, sponsorship prices will be reviewed and lowered to make supporting the tournament more affordable while still providing great coverage at the tournament. Those that already purchased a sponsorship tier, will have their sponsorship automatically upgraded to the next most suitable tier at no extra charge.

Details of the reviewed sponsorship tiers will be announced once dates for the 2021 edition of the competition have been confirmed.

2021 Women’s Edition

Last year we issued a rallying cry to non-FIFA women’s teams of our ambition to host a women’s edition of our Southern Frontier Cup in 2021 [Read the article here], with the 2020 edition serving as a test of our ability to organise the tournament, before we expanded it to cover 2 parallel tournaments for men and women’s teams in 2021.

With the postponing of the 2020 men’s edition, with the inaugural edition now taking place in 2021, it has not yet been decided whether plans for a women’s edition will be delayed until 2022 to allow for this “test” of International Surrey Football’s ability with just 1 tournament in 2021. A final decision will be made later this year at ISF’s AGM, with Surrey’s current and anticipated financial situation, and the anticipated financial situation of the 2021 Southern Frontier Cup, to count heavily towards this decision. Surrey’s women’s team was due to debut this month but this was also cancelled due to COVID-19, plans for a rescheduled debut will be made once considered safe to do so.

Details regarding Surrey’s 2021 Southern Frontier Cup plans will be announced, once details can be agreed and confidence that the situation will be resolved ahead of such a tournament can be realistically achieved. Be sure to follow International Surrey Football on social media to received the latest updates available.

Statement: COVID-19 (20/03/2020)

International Surrey Football continues to monitor the impact COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is having on the world around us. The safety and well being of all players, team staff and supporters is the most paramount consideration for any team at this moment while considering what actions to undertake as football takes a backseat to this public health crisis.

On Monday 16th March the UK government announced its latest advice concerning COVID-19. Among other things, this recommended against all non-essential contact and travel. As a result, all football in Surrey organised under the scope of the Surrey FA has been suspended for an unspecified period of time. While the professional game in England had targetted a return this weekend, it has become clear that such a resumption of the game, especially those involving fan attendance, has become increasingly unlikely.

On Thursday 19th March the UK updated its forecasts and suggested that COVID-19 may not be in the decline for potentially 12 weeks, leading up to the 12th June.

On Tuesday 31st March ConIFA are expected to hold their own meeting to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the World Football Cup, due to be held in North Macedonia. It is unclear at this stage when football will formally return, and whether all levels of football, or just professional levels, may be able to complete the 2019/20 season, or whether the season will be formally cancelled.

While it remains unclear what the future may hold, International Surrey Football has made a number of decisions regarding all activities.

International Surrey Football has decided with immediate effect that the Southern Frontier Cup will be postponed until the summer of 2021, all 3 invited teams (Cascadia, Parishes of Jersey and Yorkshire) have been automatically invited to the rescheduled event. Exact dates will be confirmed, with the intention that the tournament will still take place at Whyteleafe Football Club at a similar time of year, between the Muratti Vase and whichever ConIFA tournament may be played, full details will be confirmed when available at a later date.

All fans that have purchased tickets for the tournament will be issued an automatic refund, which will be processed this weekend, please allow a further 5 days for refunds to be issued by Eventbrite. Sponsors may keep their sponsorship for their rearranged fixtures or may get in contact to request a cancellation.

Our planned charity match against a Hampshire XI, due to be held at Farnham Town Football Club, will also be suspended and rescheduled at a later date in 2020, details to be confirmed. However, a charity donation of £100 each to, Crohn’s & Colitis UK and St. Catherine’s Hospice, will be made in the meantime.

Surrey’s plans for a women’s trial game in April will also be suspended until further notice, as well as the planned marketing day to prepare for the official launch of the team’s new home kit. International Surrey Football will also suspend its search for a Commercial Director until further notice with all interviews currently on hold.

International Surrey Football will largely limit its activities during April while we continuously assess the situation, content will still be provided where possible on social media. In May we will reassess the situation in regards to COVID-19 and will consider the potential to play friendly fixtures should the non-league season remain suspended. This will be done for player well-being and fitness, but also to provide clubs with a potential financial income during this time, as well as providing opportunities to support local businesses and charities where possible. It is not clear what stance we will take in regard to supporter attendance.

Details will be arranged when available, and plans for fixtures will include both our senior men and women’s teams. Interested non-FIFA teams operating in the South-East, are encouraged to get in contact to discuss interest, and splitting costs, with opposition places being on a first come first serve basis.

Clubs that may be interested in hosting can also get in contact with us to discuss the potential for games.