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History of Seychelles Football & Federation

Seychelles’ football finds its roots in Europe

FORMER Seychellois footballers and football followers alike agree that Englishman Adrian Fisher was the key figure behind the development of football in Seychelles.

His arrival in Seychelles in late 1969 or early 1970 brought a new vitality, strength and enthusiasm to the game.

It is said that football was introduced here by Europeans in the early 1930s. Even though there was no structured programme, football developed into a sport with a good fan base. Through the investment of businesses, football grew in popularity and matches were played at Gordon Square (now Freedom Square) in Victoria, the capital city of Seychelles found on the main island of Mahe.

Many of those matches were between local sides and visiting naval ships.

In 1936, Dr J. T. Bradley sponsored the first cup – the Challenge Cup - and it brought the kind of vigour among players and teams.

A league championship was then organised. Five teams registered for the league and a total of 20 matches were played. Most of the players didn’t have football boots and therefore played barefoot.

Teams captains and coaches were required to form a committee to oversee the proper procedures and the running of annual competitions.

By 1955 there were nine participating teams and entrance for matches was free. But spectators donated voluntarily for the payment of referees and for the maintenance of the playing field.

 

Seychelles’ first national team

 

It is said that Adrian Fisher not only introduced new skills and techniques to Seychelles football in the 1970s, but that he also implemented the required 90 minutes of football for one game.

Before Adrian Fisher’s arrival in Seychelles, games were played over 60 minutes (30 minutes each half).

On April 12, 1970, the country’s first national team, coached by Adrian Fisher, travelled to Kenya to participate in a friendly tournament. It took the team two days to reach Kenya and playing for the first time on a full-size football pitch they drew 2-2 with Feisel and lost 1-2 to Mwengi in the Mombassa Stadium.

Rolly Baker and Louis Woodcock scored for Seychelles against Feisel while Tony Hoareau netted the team’s consolation goal against Mwengi.

The players who formed the country’s first national team were: Eddie Micock (forward), Julien Larame (centre half), Mathew Docteur (inside left), Gerard Pellissier (goalkeeper), Philip Kilindo (inside right), Louis Woodcock (outside left), Dawson Sinon (half back and captain), Rolly Baker (inside left), Gilbert Servina (half back), Anthony Hoareau (outside right), James Jean-Louis (inside right), Joseph Larue (goalkeeper), James Adam (full back), Desire Mein (full back) and Donald Marie (utility man).

 

 

Upon the team’s return home, goalscorer Rolly Baker was quoted as saying that “there could have been many Seychellois in the stands but to our ears it sounded as if the place was filled with them. We tried to respond, but the occasion seemed a little too much for us. Being so shaky, we could not get going. Just consider it that this was the first Seychelles national team, its first tour abroad and the first time any of us had played in a proper stadium and it was a foreign one.”

As for Robert Frichot, the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) chairman at that time, he had this to say in the Seychelles Bulletin newspaper of April 20, 1970:

“Without doubt, little Seychelles has impressed its big neighbour Kenya with its football”.

Since then, Seychelles has made little impact in the international arena, winning just nine of 59 games played, according to FIFA’s 2005 edition of the ALMANAC.

The country’s national team won the silver medal in the first Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG) in Reunion in 1979. In the second edition in Mauritius in 1985, they won the bronze medal and repeated the feat in Reunion in 1998 and in Mauritius in 2003.

In 1995, the Seychelles under-17 team won the gold medal of the Commission de la Jeunesse et des Sports de l’Océan Indien (CJSOI) football competition played in Madagascar.

The country’s first stadium – Stade Populaire – was built in the 1970s. The 5,000-seater Stade Populaire was renovated in 1992.

The much bigger 12,000-seater Stad Linite was constructed in 1992 to host football matches of the fourth edition of the IOIG which Seychelles organized in 1993.

 

Affiliation to international bodies

 

The SFF became a member of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 1986.

The Seychelles national team have never qualified for the finals of the African Nations Cup. In fact, they made their debut in qualifiers in 1986, losing to Mauritius.

Under Yugoslav coach Vojo Gardasevic, the Seychelles team made their debut in the World Cup qualifiers in 2001. Philip Zialor got the equaliser for Seychelles in a 1-1 draw against Namibia at Stad Linite. In the preliminary round return leg match, Seychelles lost 0-3.

In their second attempt to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, Seychelles lost 0-4 at home to Zambia but played a 1-1 draw in the away match. Robert Suzette was the scorer of Seychelles’ goal in Lusaka.

Seychelles’ biggest win must have come against Zimbabwe in the African Nations Cup 2004 qualifiers.

Goals by strikers Alpha Baldé (a 73rd minute penalty) and Philip Zialor (an 87th minute free-kick) gave Seychelles a 2-1 win at Stad Linite against Zimbabwe captained by professional striker Peter Ndlovu. German coach Michael Nees was at the helm of the team at that time.

Under Frenchman Dominique Bathenay, Seychelles also beat Eritrea 1-0 at Stad Linite on a veteran Roddy Victor goal in the same qualifiers.

The SFF is also a member of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA).

Both the Seychelles under-20 and senior teams have participated in the different competitions organised by COSAFA.

 

Creation of the SFF

 

According to reports, the Seychelles Football Association was formed in 1941 to oversee the running of competitions.

The SFA’s referees’ commission was formed in 1953 and qualified referees were given certificates. Anthime Hoareau was Seychelles’ first qualified referee in 1953 and he served on the referees’ commission for 30 years.

The Seychelles Football Association became the Seychelles Football Federation in 1980.

Some of the SFF chairmen include: Gustave de Commarmond, Brother Austin, Philip Fock-Heng, Robert Frichot, Suketu Patel from 1980 to 1991 and from 1995 until now, and Finley Racombo from 1991 to 1994.

 

Seychelles in African club competitions

 

Seychelles’ first team to play in African club football competitions are St Louis. With players like Bernard Dorasamy, Paul Khan, Ange Dubignon and Vincent Dorasamy, St Louis held COSFAP to a goalless draw at Stad Popiler in the preliminary round of the former African Champions Cup in 1989.

Vincent Doarasmy scored with a free-kick in the return leg match in Madagascar to propel St Louis into the first round where they met Fire Brigade of Mauritius. They lost both ties on 1-0 score.

St Michel and Red Star have been the most successful team in African club competitions, reaching the second round of the African Champions League, African Cup Winners Cup and the CAF Cup.

In the African Champions League in 2001, St Michel eliminated AS Fortior of Madagascar 3-1 (0-0 away and 3-1 at home) in the preliminary round, defeated S Marsouins on away goals rule 4-4 (lost 2-3 away and won 2-1 at home) in the first round, before losing 0-6 (0-5 away and 0-1 at home) to A-Ahly of Egypt who went on to win the crown.

In the 2003 edition of the CAF Cup, St Michel eliminated DSA of Madagascar (0-0 at home and 1-0 away) to progress to the second round where they meet Green Buffaloes of Zambia, going out 2-6 (0-5 away and winning 2-1 at home).

In the African Cup Winners Cup in 2002, St Michel got a hat-trick from Philip Zialor in the return leg match at home as they defeated Zimbabwe’s Shabanie Mine 4-0.

In the second round, they lost 1-3 (0-1 away and 1-2 at home) to AS Vita of DR Congo.

In fact, Red Star were the first Seychelles team to reach the second round of an African Club competition.

In the African Cup Winners Cup in 1997, Red Star won by walk-over against Club Namakia of Madagascar and Maxaquene of Mozambique in the preliminary and first rounds.

In the second round, they lost 0-5 (0-2 at home and 0-3 away) to Ste Louisienne of Reunion.

Red Star are the Seychelles club to win by the highest margin in these competitions, beating Mauritius’ Savanne Sporting Club 4-0 at Stad Linite after having lost the African Confederations Cup preliminary round away fixture 0-2.

Philip Zialor is the only Seychellois to have netted a hat-trick in a club competition. The striker is also the highest scorer with 11 goals – 10 for St Michel and one for St Louis.

 

Seychelles’ best players of all time

 

Some of Seychelles’ best players of all time are: Rolly Baker, Jimmy Baker, Ralph Micock, Dawson Sinon, Michael Mancienne, Bernard Dorasamy, Philip Zialor, Ange Dubignon, Robin Mousbé, Paul Khan, Jim Louis, Simon Françoise, Alpha Baldé, Suketu Patel, Jeris César, Barry Furneau, Michael Barra, Ulric Mathiot, Nelson Sopha and Charles Alcindor.

Only two Seychellois players have so far been able to play in foreign leagues. In the mid-90s, Jim Louis formerly with Beau Vallon, joined Ste Suzanne of Reunion, while ex-Red Star captain and midfield strategist Simon Françoise, signed for Fire Brigade of Mauritius.

 

Patel on FIFA and CAF

 

 

Current SFF boss Suketu Patel is quite a prominent figure in world football as he holds key position on a number of CAF and FIFA sub-committees.

Patel is a member of FIFA’s Under-17 World Cup organising committee. He is also the chairman of CAF’s Finance committee, a member of CAF’s Emergency committee, Vice-chairman of CAF’s women’s football committee and a member of CAF’s Club competitions committee.

If the country’s national team haven’t been able to qualify for the African Nations Cup, referee Eddie Maillet has done it.

After becoming an international referee in 2001, Maillet made his first African Nations Cup appearance in Tunis, Tunisia in 2004 and refereed two group matches.

In Egypt in 2006, referee Maillet took charge of two more group matches, refereed the quarterfinal encounter between defending champions Tunisia and Nigeria and he was chosen as the fourth official in the final opposing hosts Egypt and Ivory Coast.

 

Youth Development

 

A lot is being done to develop youth football in Seychelles and the brain behind the scheme is SFF boss Suketu Patel. Under-13, under-15 and under-18 teams train regularly on the artificial astro-turf pitches built in 2001 with funds received under FIFA’s Goal Project.

In 2006, the second phase of the Goal Project  - the technical centre – was officially inaugurated by three-time European Footballer of the Year and former France national team captain Michel Platini, who now holds a number of posts with FIFA, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the Fédération Française de Football (FFF).

The project has cost US$1,271,700. The different contributions have come from the Seychelles government to the extent of US$540,900 and this includes the land the building has been built on, from Fifa US$400,000 and the SFF US$331,819.

SFF, it is to note, saved US$62,500 annually to undertake this major project for the long-term development of football in Seychelles.

The technical centre is the SFF’s Goal Project 2 and it will house the local football body’s new headquarters, offices, a technical and residential centre with a state-of-the-art 80-seat auditorium, 20 self-contained bedrooms, two massage rooms, changing rooms and a restaurant which will cater for 60 people.
The facilities will be used by the country's different national teams, club teams, foreign teams and even other local sporting federations and associations.

A number of senior teams boast Junior (under-18) sides which provide them with well-groomed young players to replace the seasoned ones who are nearing retirement.

Seychellois coaches working with youth teams are paid monthly allowances by the SFF and all their work is monitored by Rwandan technical advisor Raoul Shungu.

In total, there are four divisions in Seychelles football – divisions one, two and three with each one boasting 10 teams, as well as the Central League.

Junior league and knockout competitions at school and club level are also organized on weekends.

To bring young players to training on time, the SFF acquired two busses in 2004.

All these prove that the SFF has been meticulously implementing the youth scheme to strengthen grassroots football in Seychelles.

It is hoped that in the years to come, SFF’s systematic youth development programme will help produce good players and strong Seychelles teams capable of qualifying for the African Nations Cup or even the World Cup.

The emphasis is not only on developing good players, officials are also incorporated in SFF’s development structure.

In 2005, the SFF started four different programmes to train coaches, medical officers, team managers and games’ officials.

By 2007, all coaches, medical officers and managers should have followed the different courses run by SFF officials otherwise they won’t be allowed to have anything to do with the teams they are affiliated with.

This, according to SFF chairman Patel, will help bring Seychelles football to the next level.

 

 

Seychelles’ League champions

 

In the 1960s, Ascot dominated Seychelles’ football. Rangers and Rovers took their turn to win trophies in the 1970s.

During the time of regionalization from 1982 to 1993, St Louis dominated club football in Seychelles, winning10 league titles and a number of cup competitions.

Since the re-introduction of clubs in 1995, St Michel have won the division one league title five times.

Seychelles’ League champions since 1995

1995: Sunshine

1996: St Michel

1997: St Michel

1998: Red Star

1999: St Michel

2000: St Michel

2001: Red Star

2002: La Passe

2003: St Michel

2004: La Passe

2005: La Passe

2006: Anse Reunion

2007: Saint-Michel United

 

Women’s football

 

Reports say that women’s football was played in Seychelles for the first time in 1966. It is said that a team of 10 female players lost 1-2 to a men’s veteran team.

Women’s football in Seychelles is very well organised and the SFF runs competitions – league and different knockout tournaments – for the five teams registered with the federation.

The federation also employs a female sports coach, herself a player, to help develop women’s football in Seychelles.

Some of the most prominent teams are Olympia Coast, Dolphins and Ste Anne United.

In 2004, the country’s youth team won the Commission de la Jeunesse et des Sports de l’Océan indien football competition gold medal in front of their home crowd. But against IK Umea, boasting Brazilian star Marta, the Seychelles women’s team were no match for the European champions, losing in double digits in 2004.

 

World stars visit Seychelles

 

Over the years, many football stars have visited Seychelles. Among them are Michel Platini, Rio Ferdinand, Didier Deschamps, Gianluca Vialli, Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Viera.

In 1976, Englishman Jimmy Hill visited Seychelles and watched the Rangers/Ascot Cup final. Rangers won the match 6-2.

After the match, Englishman Hill said:

“The players have natural skills which were evident in the Cup final.”

As for Brazilian Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé and considered as one or the world’s finest footballer of all time, he arrived in Seychelles on February 18, 1979.

A Pele Cup was organized between Rovers and a selection of players from the different local sides. The match ended 1-1.

Charles Alcindor, Ralph Micock, Max Racombo, Suketu Patel were some of the players who caught Pelé’s eyes.

 

 




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