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Dhivehi League in name: 10 for Male', 0 for the atolls

With FAM’s announcement to commence this year’s Dhivehi Premier League with the inclusion of atoll football clubs on a Home and Away principle, many atoll teams had made costly investment to qualify for the League, which were rendered profitless.

Aishath Shuba Solih
19 February 2024, MVT 06:34
During a match played in the Dhivehi League Qualifications between atolls
Aishath Shuba Solih
19 February 2024, MVT 06:34

The main football league held in Maldives, Dhivehi Premier League, will commence next year inclusive of the two team that secured spots in the League with their advancement to the finals in the 2nd Division Football Tournament that concluded last Friday. The league will compete 10 teams who are all from Male’ City.

As announced by the Football Association of Maldives (FAM), this year’s League will commence in islands as well, with total 12 competing team that include of 3 teams from Atolls on a “home and away” basis.

The qualification tournament announced specifically for Atoll teams saw close to 80 competitors. Excluding the Greater Male Region, this number of teams partaking the qualifiers is a good ratio in review of the country. These atoll teams had spent heftily to compete in the Qualifiers however, their investments had garnered no results nor compensations.

The qualification tournament was lost with no knowledge of what became of it within the financial pitfall that the FAM - who allegedly harbors many corruption and money laundering - has been plunged into.

FAM press conference held to announce the expansion of Dhivehi league to atolls

One of the atoll clubs that had spent extensively with the hope of competing in the league was the Zigzag Football Club, native to Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhuffushi.

Ibrahim Asif of the club’s executive committee had revealed that over MVR 1 million was spent by the club to realize their hopes. They had advanced to the zone plays when the Qualifiers were halted.

However, it was not exclusively Kulhudhuffushi’s team that had spent hefty sums. Clubs from other islands who had competed in the Qualifiers had also invested strongly in their team.

Regardless of the investments, no results were seen. The clubs compelled to face disappointment and surrender were none other than the atoll teams. The proficient coach who had highlighted six years ago that Maldivian football cannot rise from their stunted state without expanding the sport, Mohamed Shiyaz (Mohan) said that he had told the involved personnel that the plan formed in 2021 to expand the league to atolls was structured in a manner that would bear no results.

FAM had assigned the formation of this plan to Mohamed Adam who had previously formed the format of Minivan Championships held across atolls, and began efforts to implement it in 2021. The association had also held a ceremony in Galolhu Stadium in 2022 to launch the League in conformity with this format.

However, Mohan stated that expanding the league across the country and commencing it in a Home and Away basis is not a plan that can be implemented within a short time.

“I told the people working on it back then that this is not the way it can be done at the time as well. The required plan for this must be formed using suitable research collected through years of work, and only then does it reach the point where it can be implemented.” said Mohan, who had coached the Dhaalu Atoll Kudahuvadhoo team that triumphed the Minivan Championships and resumed their training for the Dhivehi League after bringing the team to Male’.

He remarked that the target duration for commencing the league during the formation of the plan must be determined based on the research collected.

“For example, if this is the year 2024, the target was set for 2028 to establish the league country-wide. Subsequently, efforts must be made to facilitate it within these four years. Some must work to develop the stadiums to league standards,” said Mohan, who obtained the highest pass in the coaching category’s federation level and is also in possession of a pro-license.

“Others will initiate programs that train and offer coaching to referees and technical officials. Furthermore, the players must be trained for the league before it is begun by establishing academies and holding youth level tournaments in selected provinces.”

From the Dhivehi League Qualifications

No research done in the country; plans formed are fruitless

India’s super league that has adopted the expansion of football outside the South Asian Subcontinent was made into their main league after years of continuous research. It was done with procedures distributed within a timeline, resolving each step one by one.

However, Maldives had been unable to come up with plans that transforms the main league to include the entire country. A foreign expert who had worked in the country defines the cause of this as failure in spending an appropriate amount of time collecting information to devise a well-researched plan. Nevertheless, the expert grants that plans have been created previously.

“Plans don’t work because they are devised without the suitable research.” The expert said.

Football critics had also predicted that the plan created to expand the league country-wide would not be feasible for Maldives following the earliest announcement of the plan.

President of the Kulhudhuffushi at the time of the initial preparations commenced by the team to qualify for the league, Ahmed Abdulla had observed that the plan was formatted to run in a very costly manner.

“The format of the plan was devised in a manner that propels high costs.” He said.

“There are establishment within the zones that allow cost-effective methods. If these three atolls, Haa Alif, Haa Dhaalu and Shaviyani atolls are reviewed, there are some islands highly connected (established links) with all islands through RTL (Rajje Transport Link). Instead of opening nominations for islands willing to host the tournament, identifying these islands (main islands connected with RTL) and hosting the tournament in those islands will offer much alleviations to these islands (in these three atolls).”

During the match played by Zigzag Football Club in the northern Qualifications

A plan strong enough to resume despite the rotation of FAM presidents must be devised

The Home and Away principle to expand the Dhivehi Premier League country-wide was a pledge made by Adeel Ali Jaleel following his election to a second term as the president of FAM in 2020.

Despite articulating the initiation of this plan within his term, FAM had not completed all the procedures that required to be settled prior to the commencement of the league during the last four years.

“This is not such a (simple) process that can be begun by the president (Bassam) saying he will in a given duration. This is something that can only be begun by planning strongly and completing the procedures that needs to be settled in between,” Mohan, who had also worked with the Raa Atoll Undhoofaaru team who competed in the Dhivehi League Qualifier, opined.

He affirmed that this process cannot be completed within the term of an FAM president.

“FAM presidents receive a term of 4 years. But the plan should not be devised to comply to that duration. Many should be involved with conceiving a plan and begin implementing it. The plan should be strong enough to not be discarded and annulled over a new plan to the inclination of a new FAM president that steps up after the conclusion of a four-year term. It should be devised well enough to not incur changes to its basic format although little changes are brought,” said Mohan.

“The plan must be conceived in collaboration with everyone who are involved with football.”

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