Founded in 1968, Tiare Tahiti is currently the biggest club on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia with 306 club members ranging from U-7 to U13 and senior.

Following its Ligue 2 Moorea title during the 2017-2018 season, Tiare Tahiti was invited to participate in the country’s premier senior competition the Ligue 1 Vini the following season.

They surprised many when, at the end of a nail-biting season, they pipped some more seasoned clubs to finish second behind AS Venus and secure a berth at the OFC Champions League for the first time.

Vahine Manea and her mum Pauline Tavaitai are part of the squad’s staff and are also heavily involved behind-the-scenes with the club.

The pair are elated to see the team they support prepare for their debut on the regional stage.

“Our thoughts? A lot of joy especially as it’s the first time,” Manea said.

“We’re so happy. I’m pleased because my kids are still young and their dad is the team’s goalkeeper. Every day the kids are at the trainings and every Saturday we’re on a football field.

“We work as a family; my mum is the vice-president of the club and the we’re all family. That’s what makes clubs work here. We have everyone’s support at the club; the parents whose kids are in our football school holiday programmes, we have their support.

Tavaitai, Tiare Tahiti’s vice-president, is fond of the family environment the club promotes and can’t wait for the team to return to playing home games at Afareaitu Stadium in Moorea, which is currently undergoing renovations.

“We’re looking forward to when we can play games in Moorea again because there’s more people, all our supporters will be there.”

The current Ligue 1 leaders have shown their success last season wasn’t just a fluke but Tavaitai is keen to see their local exploits translate on the regional stage.

“The objective for us last year was just to be consistent in our performances,” she said.

“The big surprise for us is that we went further than expected and it’s hugely exciting for everyone involved in the club, but especially for the players who put a lot of time and effort into their success.”

Tiare Tahiti are on the ground in New Caledonia preparing to their make their OFC Champions League debut against Solomon Warriors on Sunday 1 March at 4pm (local).