The coronavirus pandemic has been the main backdrop behind football in 2020.

Nobody has been able to avoid disruption in some capacity around the globe and the impact has been wide-reaching.

As part of OFC Media’s 2020 Review, we will look at what has happened across a range of topics in football throughout the Pacific this year.

Keep an eye out for more stories in the coming days as part of our review of 2020.

Women’s football

This year has been an exceptional one for women’s football in Oceania, highlighted by the successful bid by New Zealand and Australia to co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.

In the wee small hours of June 26, the FIFA Council announced their decision that the women’s World Cup would take place in Australia and New Zealand.

The bid – branded #AsOne on social media – attracted Government support from both sides of the Tasman Sea and the tournament will be an opportunity for both countries to show how far the women’s game has developed recently.

The event will also mark the first cross-Confederation World Cup and it will be the first FIFA tournament in New Zealand since the U-20 men’s World Cup in 2015.

The women’s World Cup looms as a watershed moment for football in Oceania and there’s endless opportunities to grow the women’s game on the back of it.

“Australia and New Zealand will not only host a FIFA Women’s World Cup that is the largest tournament ever run, but it will also be a catalyst for ensuring the development of women’s football continues in the Asia-Pacific region and globally,” New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood said following confirmation of the successful bid.

“Our two nations have worked together to deliver an exceptional, historic bid and I would like to thank FIFA and the whole football family for giving us this opportunity. The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will bring us all together in a celebration of our shared love of football.”

Many of OFC’s Member Associations made significant steps to develop the women’s game in 2020.

New Women’s Football Development Officers were hired in the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

A number of countries also launched new or improved competitions for women and girls.

The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea created new senior national leagues, while Tahiti set up an U-15 and senior women’s competition on Moorea Island.

Tonga operated the Heilala Manongi Project in all six islands and created a new women’s football strategy.

In Samoa, they held the Soccer Sisters Festival on both main islands and began weekly coach and volunteer workshops.

Fiji committed to developing a women’s football strategy, while Ba FC won their Inter-District competition in November.

New Zealand have standalone women’s football and futsal leagues, while they also ran a leadership programme this year.

NZF President Johanna Wood, left, and OFC Women’s Football Development Officer Emma Evans. Photo Credit: NZF Media

OFC Women’s Football Development Officer Emma Evans said it was great to see so many major developments throughout 2020.

“OFC is strongly committed to seeing women’s football thrive in the Pacific and it is positive to see the key building blocks being put in place,” Evans said.

“We are proud to have established a supportive network of committed staff to the women’s game in our region and we intend to grow that number in the coming years.”

Aside from all the positive work done in our Member Associations, OFC also launched a Women’s Football Capacity Building Programme in July.

The workshop was for Women’s Football Development Officers and Just Play Programme Managers in the Pacific.

The modules focused on life skills, leadership skills and work skills with an eye to developing more women to serve in leadership positions in the game.

The capacity building programme received financial assistance from FIFA as it comes under their wider strategy to develop the women’s game.

“We are grateful for FIFA’s support for women’s football and this programme provided us with the chance to connect with key people across the Pacific,” Evans said.

In August, OFC announced greater funding for the women’s game in the coming years, while a new OFC Women’s Football Strategy is currently being developed and is due to be launched in early 2021.