When Fédération Tahitienne de Football President Thierry Ariiotima announced in late 2016 that “women’s football is a priority from now on”, there was one young girl whose interest was piqued.
Vaihei Samin has plans to make it as a professional and with the backing of the federation and her family she believes that dream is close to becoming a reality.
“My entire family plays football; mum, dad, aunties, uncles, brothers, cousins – so I decided to play too,” she said.
“My father was a goalkeeper with AS Tefana, I watched all his games.
The 15-year-old is referring to former Tahiti goalkeeper Xavier Samin, who was among those who encouraged her early exploits into the game and continues to be a strong supporter.
“I started playing with Tefana when I was seven. Since then I’ve never stopped, it’s become my passion and I would love for it to become my profession,” the ambitious youngster said.
And she has every right to be ambitious after seeing the success her good friend and former teammate Kiani Wong has had.
“She’s my aunty, even if we are the same age, and she’s also a very good friend,” Samin said of the 16-year-old who joined the Strasbourg youth academy last year.
“I’m very happy for her, that she was able to leave. I promised her that I would be joining her this year and I’m counting on keeping that promise,” Samin said.
“I know that it is difficult to adapt, that I’m not quite ready, but it’s ok I will get there.”
For many young girls, dancing might be more of a draw card than the dirty boots and sweat of a football field, but Samin insists she’s found her passion.
“I’ve played a lot of different sports but always just for fun. My true sport is football.
“Since I was young I’ve played with the same players, my cousins, even up until today. I like dancing, but I’m football all they way.”
Looking to the near future, Samin is eyeing up following in her parents footsteps and representing Tahiti on the regional stage.
“I’m definitely interested in the U-16 national team,” she enthused.
“It would make me happy because my mum has already played in the women’s national team, and since then we’ve hardly heard a word about women’s football, it sort of stopped. So women started playing futsal.
“I’m really happy that the federation relaunched the Sunday Championship to the point where it will also pick a national team.
“To play in a World Cup is a dream and I hope that it will transform into a reality.”
As well as having family backing her bid to become one of Tahiti’s top exports, Samin also has the support of FTF Women’s Football Development Officer Stéphanie Spielmann.
“Vaihei is, in certain areas, even better than Kiani. She has some exceptional qualities,” Spielmann said.
An attacking midfielder or a left wing, Samin has big dreams and she’s not afraid to put in the hard work to achieve them.
“I want to thank my coach Stéphanie because it’s her who has done everything for me, it’s her who trains me and who will do for me what she’s done for Kiani.
“She’s going to prepare me for France.”
For young girls keen to follow Kiani and Vaihei onto the football field, visit the Fédération Tahitienne de Football Technical Centre on Saturday (local) to join in the latest Live Your Goals session.