The pair will work alongside Technical Director Patrick Jacquemet and Technical Coordinator Colin Tuaa as OFC programmes aimed at players, coaches, referees and medical personnel continue to increase.
Sope has joined as the new Women’s Development Officer and will focus on the progress of the female game in the Pacific region. She will build on the impressive work done by Connie Selby, who was the OFC Head of Women’s Football for two years from 2006.
Selby worked alongside her husband Jim, Jacquemet’s predecessor as Technical Director, and made an outstanding contribution to women’s sport in the Pacific before leaving OFC in 2008 to take up a position in the United Arab Emirates as national women’s coach and head of women’s football development.
Sope, 34, hails from Vanuatu and studied at tertiary level in New Zealand before moving here permanently in 2006 to further her nursing career. She is no stranger to OFC having worked for Oceania’s FIFA Development Office – based at OFC headquarters in Auckland – in 2005 and 2006 as a part-time women’s football consultant.
This role involved conducting assessments on women’s football within the OFC member associations and providing recommendations to FIFA.
Her other experience in the world game includes being the women’s football chairperson for the Port Vila Football Association in Vanuatu from 2002 to 2006.
Sope has been actively involved in the development of women’s football since 1999, when she became the treasurer of the women’s football committee in Port Vila.
She started playing the game at primary school and also lined up for the Massey University social team during her studying days.
“There is a need to develop women’s football in the Pacific to reach a high standard in OFC competitions and I am glad to be given the opportunity by OFC to be involved in this process,” Sope says.
“I’m looking forward to working with the women’s football development officers within the member associations to improve women’s football in the Pacific.”
Chambaron has joined OFC as a Technical Coordinator and will be responsible for coach education and training programmes throughout the 11 member associations. The 39-year-old is from France and came to New Caledonia in 2004 to begin his club coaching career.
He returned to his homeland after a year but was back by 2006 to take up a role with Federation Caledonniene de Football.
He was involved in coaching national age-group teams before becoming the federation’s Technical Director in June this year.
His playing career included turning out as a central defender at the third level of French club football.
Chambaron says the only way to improve the standard of football in the Pacific is to increase the knowledge of the region’s coaches.
“For me, the players are the most important thing,” he says. “But if we want to improve the players we have to improve the coaches. We want to create a coaching pathway to the top level, just the same as we are trying to do with the players.”
OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas says the new pair will be valuable additions to the team.
“Both Emmie and Didier have extensive knowledge of football, as well as excellent skills so we are delighted to have them on board,” he says.
“Emmie is joining at an exciting team for women’s football with the OFC Women’s Nations Cup having recently taken place and New Zealand set to compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany next year.
“Didier also has a very important role as OFC looks to improve the standard and knowledge of our coaches in the Pacific region.”