So the first stop is the Cook Islands;
About Cook Islands Football Association
The Cook Islands Football Association was founded in 1971 with visions to promote and develop the sport in the Cook Islands, at the same time pave a way for inclusion into the world body, FIFA (Federacion Internacional de Futbol Asociado). Twenty years later in 1994, CIFA became a member of FIFA; and as of June, 2009 CIFA recorded 14 affiliated members – 7 Rarotonga Football Clubs (Avatiu Football Club, Puaikura Football Club, Nikao Football Club, Matavera Football Club, Takuvaine Football Club, Titikaveka Football Club, Tupapa Maraerenga Football Club), Atiu Football Association, Aitutaki Football Association, Mangaia Football Association, Mauke Football Association, Mitiaro Football Association, Pukapuka Football Association and Rakahanga Football Association.
The pride of the national association, its FIFA-funded headquarters plus a national football academy with two playing pitches of international standards, were completed and opened in 2004. The academy over the years has developed elite players identified by the association who would play at senior levels in various clubs in New Zealand and Australia and return for national representation.
CIFA is challenged by the sheer distance between the islands scattered over 2million square kilometers of ocean. Its furthest member and latest inclusion Pukapuka Football Association (2002) is in the Northern Cook Islands, closer to the Samoa than Rarotonga. Covering an area the size of Western Europe, to fly there from Rarotonga is about the same time it takes to fly from New Zealand to Australia.
Despite the geographical obstacles, the CIFA has successfully run its development programmes and regularly holds competitions on a national scale, with the biennial youth championship, one of the more important dates on the calendar. The best youth players are identified through this exercise and are trained at the national football academy where Cook Islands national teams march into camp before OFC and FIFA qualifying tournaments.
CIFA currently runs a league for its best clubs with a knock out cup organised at the end of the season. However, the five-a-side competition is run prior to the start of the main season. With the lack of indoor facilities to hold proper futsal competitions, CIFA has improvised with its outdoor version. The five-a-side competition attracts a broad cross-section of participants from registered club players to social players, men and women of all ages and abilities.