The President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, has visited the Mauritanian Football Association (FFRIM) headquarters to view the numerous FIFA Forward-funded projects on site.
President Ghazouani visited the FFRIM facility in the capital, Nouakchott, where USD 11.1 million in FIFA Forward funds have been used to radically revamp and develop football infrastructure.
The FFRIM building itself is among the projects funded as is the Sheikha Boidiya stadium. Originally built in the 1960s, the 5,000-capacity venue has undergone a major facelift with a new synthetic playing surface being laid and off-the-pitch facilities, such as the dressing rooms, also being renovated.
“A few years ago, in 2016 or 2017, we were about to find ourselves without a stadium in Mauritania. The Olympic stadium was under construction, and we were about to host Burkina Faso in the knockout group of the 2019 [CAF] Africa Cup of Nations,” explained FFRIM President Ahmed Yahya.
“We thought that there was an opportunity: FIFA had just launched the FIFA Forward programme so we immediately made the request, FIFA helped us and in record time, we were able to build the Sheikha Boidiya stadium that hosts every national team match today.
“It not only allowed us to build this stadium and continue hosting, but also we were never again forced to go and play elsewhere. We built this stadium thanks to Forward funding. This has turned out to be our lucky charm too because, since then, we keep winning in this stadium.”
The stadium refurbishment has been the catalyst for further Forward-funded projects. A further three synthetic pitches have also been constructed, a medical centre built, and a youth academy established. The FFRIM HQ now boasts a new building for its official TV channel, a restaurant, and a fan shop.
“In Mauritania, we had the foresight to use the Forward funds wisely because we had a vision, a coherent project; a technical centre located in the city centre where the federation’s headquarters are based, with all the amenities nearby: the training pitches, our own stadium, that was rebuilt thanks to the support of the FIFA Forward programme,” added the FFRIM President.
“Today, we [see] the extension of our main building, with our new offices, our new meeting room. We also have the extension of the academy, which is an ambitious and amazing project that is starting to give results with young players who are starting to emerge; not only for clubs abroad, but that also supply our clubs in the first division, second division, and our national teams.”
“The collaboration between FFRIM and FIFA has been excellent over the last three years,” explained FIFA Director Member Associations Africa, Gelson Fernandes. “We have a relationship based on mutual commitment, and it is that which has led to such impressive results.”
The infrastructure improvements are symptomatic of the steady growth of Mauritanian football off and on the pitch with the FFRIM the driving force behind that.
The men’s team will play in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 early next year, the third successive time they have qualified for the continental showpiece having never previously managed to achieve the feat. The women’s national team continues to go from strength to strength after coming into being in 2019.
“Our youth, our beach soccer, our futsal team, our women’s team all play, train, work, and look to the future with a lot of ambition and peace of mind. Our championships are quite regular. Our training programmes are also quite regular,” said Mr Yahya.
“So it’s fair to say that Mauritanian football is in good shape and benefits from its centre, […] which now gives us the ambition to take Mauritanian football even further because it’s clear we have a centre worthy of the name, which allows Mauritanian football to keep progressing.”
“When you have the President of the Republic coming […], it’s a sign of a very good understanding between the Football Federation of Mauritania and the government,” added Nataniel Nascimento Brito, FIFA Project Manager in the Development Office for West Africa. “This federation combines efficiency and effectiveness, so I thank them all.”