The players and their coaches spent the week leading up to Christmas in Auckland at the OFC Academy where they took part in daily training sessions.
The visit also provided the opportunity for the sides to put what they have been learning into practice against two teams from the Auckland Football Federation.
Joris Kanon, a mid-fielder with the U-14 side which beat their Auckland opponents 3-0 in their friendly match, says the trip to New Zealand has been a great experience.
“It has gone well, for some of us there have been a few small problems, but we came here to play football and that’s what we have done,” Kanon says.
The youngster has been in the Paita programme for a year and says it has been a super experience and encountering some international opposition has been a highlight.
“The New Zealanders don’t play in the same style as we do in the academy. They are more aggressive,” he says.
He says coming up against a different style of play is good experience for the team.
“It is a dream for me to leave for France to play professionally and the school is a good stepping stone to that,” Kanon says.
OMS de Païta technical director Jean Paul Cureau, a former player and coach at AS Magenta, has been with the school since its foundation in 2008 and says the trip was a chance to reward the players for the hard work they have put in over the past four years.
“This has been a chance to take the children out of the country and put see the results of the work that has been done since we began the programme four years ago,” Cureau says.
“It has also been a chance for us to give guidance and open the minds of these young players, who face many difficulties. Most notable, they have difficulties in their daily lives so it’s a chance to show them what is out there for them.”
The club has had an excellent 2012 season with the U-14 side claiming victory in a number of competitions including the Festival Christian Karembeu and the Coupe de Caledonie.
While his players performed strongly in the friendlies against their Auckland opponents, Cureau says results were not the main objective of the visit.
“We wanted to give the players an exceptional week long experience after a really good season and to give them a chance to live out their passion for football against strong New Zealand opponents.”
The New Caledonia national side has been going from strength-to-strength over the past few years which Cureau believes provides the country’s youth with something to aspire to.
“If the players of this age aren’t interested in representing their country at the highest level it would be a shame. But I think that those who can really live football with passion will have the long-term vision of wearing with pride the grey and red shirt.”
The OMS de Païta football school was created for youth aged six to 18 years old within the community run club which had previously lacked a youth development programme.
Through a partnership with Sainte Marie College the players not only work as a team on the field but study in the same classes at school creating a strong sense of solidarity.