The Polynesians through New Zealand’s All Blacks have dominated world rugby for over a century & now Tahiti is showing that Polynesians can be just as agile with the round ball.
Tahiti has produced many individuals capable of playing at the highest levels in Europe – the Vahirua family members Pascal & Marama are a good example in recent years. As recently as 2013, at the 17th running of the prestigious Beach Soccer World Cup, Tahiti finished 4th overall in a play-off against Brazil & is ranked amongst the top teams in the world for the sport.
The attention of Tahitians – around 165,000 Polynesians who live on just over 120 staggeringly beautiful islands scattered across a 5,500,000sq km ocean the size of Western Europe – has now turned to Futsal (indoor soccer).
After Tahiti’s outstanding performances in beach soccer, the Tahitian Football Federation (FTF) set up the Championship Top Nike – an elite championship for futsal which now boasts more than 4,500 licensed players, a third of all ‘footballers’ in Tahiti. Nine clubs in Tahiti compete weekly to determine the Futsal Championship of Tahiti. The championship team plays the winners of the Festival des Iles (Championship of the Islands) & the result of that battle could see the overall winning team participating in the national title of France, the ‘Coupe de France’.
The Festival des Iles is a French Polynesia wide competition in soccer, indoor soccer & beach soccer. The 2015 festival will be held in Tahiti from 30 March – 4th April with around 1550 competitors from 26 islands participating. Therein, however, lies the tragedy – in a struggle between the FTF who run soccer on a national level in Tahiti & the Association that conducts soccer activities locally in Bora Bora, the real losers are the youth of Bora Bora (as well as Futsal itself because Bora Bora’s best players will not be present at the Festival des Iles).
Bora Bora’s champion team ‘Otemanu’ warms up:
Bora Bora’s best players have battled it out to determine the true Champions of Bora Bora – alas the FTF will not permit them to represent Bora Bora. Otemanu is a very talented, well drilled & disciplined team, the best by far in the Leeward Islands & a real threat in the Festival des Iles……were they permitted to compete. Here’s coverage of their win in the Gaston Tong Song Cup played 15th March:
Later this year, from 1st to 8th August, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Futsal Championships will be held in Tahiti & the Tahitians have their eyes on qualifying for the FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2016 (Columbia) & 2020 & even to being a candidate to hold the World Cup in 2024. Coaches of international standing have been recently in Tahiti to give their assistance, local players are already competing in Europe & the selection of a junior squad in preparation for the 2024 World Cup is envisaged.
Futsal is ‘on the go’ in Bora.