Tuesday, September 05, 2006

FIFA World Ranking : Dominican Republic plan for the future 1

For some nations, moving up the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking to position number 171 would be of little significance. But for all those working to help the beautiful game grow in the Dominican Republic, the news is encouraging, particularly for those dreaming of one day seeing their beloved Quisqueyanos at the finals of a FIFA World Cup™.

The President of the Dominican Football Federation (DFF), Osiris Guzmán, has said on numerous occasions: "If Haiti can reach the World Cup, then we can too." It was thus in 2004, after the national team had crashed out of the qualifiers for Germany 2006 at the hands of eventual finalists Trinidad and Tobago, that Guzmán laid the foundation stone of a ten-year plan aimed at qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Teething troubles
One of the main problems with football in the Caribbean nation is that it is a relatively new sport and still to flourish at grassroots level. With the DFF founded as recently as 1953 and only affiliated to FIFA in 1959, it was not until 1965 that football reached the schools and playing grounds of the Dominican Republic, thanks in the main to the efforts of Fortunato Quispe Mendoza. From an infrastructure standpoint, it was also Mendoza who established the various playing categories and set up the country's first division championship.

In spite of these efforts, today football remains the country's fifth most popular sport. As well as being a relatively new discipline for the Dominicans, efforts to nurture the sport have not been helped by the lack of success of the national team, who have still to qualify for any tournament of significance at either senior or youth level, and a national league that struggles to attract a viewing audience or fan base.

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