A family of champions

Smith Tino in action for the Tahiti national futsal team. Credit: OFC via Phototek

The Tino family are well known in futsal circles thanks in part to the success of Smith who is considered one of Tahiti’s best and a key member of the national team.

At a domestic level, Smith is part of the Viarei team from Punaauia, and with his four brothers Anderson, Steven, Réne and Nelson as well as his brother-in-law Your Souday, they have the starting line-up.

This week the Tino family and the rest of the Viarei squad are gearing up to defend their title at the ninth edition of the Festival des îles.

Smith, while quietly confident, believes his side has a tough task ahead of them if they want to lift the trophy for a third consecutive year.

“Of course we want to defend our title, but I think it will be difficult, as this time we started our preparations only in January unlike the other years,” Smith explained.

“It will be an incredibly challenge for us to hold onto the title this year.

“I mean, it’s true that we finished the Top Nike championship in first place, but it’s hard to stay champions and to win everything.

“The five brothers, with our brother-in-law, we’re still here but for the rest it’s almost a new team.”

The journey for the Tino family into the world of futsal began in Takaroa in the Tuamotu islands.

With the passion they developed for the game, they family soon outgrew their island home and found themselves looking further afield for the opportunity to develop and improve their skills.

“We had the desire to discover another level, something different to what we had in Tuamotu,” Smith said.

“I think we made the right decision to leave Takaroa in 2011, and it’s now been eight years that we’ve been in Tahiti playing futsal.

“With my brothers and our brother-in-law we form a group, it’s rare in the sport I think.

“Despite a couple of difficult matches, we try to hold onto our bond in each match in the championship.”

It’s been a journey driven by passion and Smith can’t imagine playing the game without his brothers alongside him.

“We all bring different qualities to the game,” he said.

“There’s one brother who kicks harder than the others, one who is more technical, another who is more intelligent in the game and another who is very strong defensively.”

He said futsal isn’t just a hobby for the family.

“It’s more than a hobby,” he explained.

“It’s our life, we love the game like we love our women, that is to say, like crazy!

“Thanks to futsal, we’ve changed, we’ve discovered new things. Thanks to futsal we’ve developed our qualities to the point where we’ve been able to join the Tahiti national team.”

This the Festival des îles is being held from 27 March to 1 April and is the biggest to date with 2194 participants and 138 football, beach soccer and futsal teams coming together in Papeete.

For Tahiti’s futsal community the Festival des îles is an annual highlight, and for the Tino family and Viarei it’s no different.

“For my brothers and me, it’s the Island World Cup,” Smith laughed.

“It’s once a year and it’s so important for us. We’re not going just to entertain ourselves but to try and be at a level superior to the others.

“It’s incredible to see all the islands coming every year.”

The Festival des îles kicks off on 27 March with the opening ceremony scheduled for the 28th ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 return match at Stade Pater between Tahiti and Papua New Guinea at 7pm (local).