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Cook Islands official’s ‘eye-opening’ Costa Rica experience

Pauline Dean, third from left, and her team in Costa Rica.

It was not just New Zealand’s Junior Football Ferns who represented the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) at the recently concluded FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup™ in Costa Rica.

Three members of staff of OFC Member Associations were appointed to help with matchday operations at the tournament, which recently concluded with Spain beating Japan in the final on August 28.

Vairani Davio from the Fédération Tahitienne de Football (FTF) worked as a Match Director in Costa Rica while Georgina Gatenby of New Zealand Football (NZF) and Pauline Dean from the Cook Islands’ Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA) were appointed as Match Coordinators.

Dean was selected to work alongside Match Director Amina Kassem from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for Group C, helping support Kassem in preparations for team arrival, match coordination, events and day after activities, for Nigeria, France, South Korea and Canada’s U-20 national teams.

It was a challenging role, especially when a rainstorm threatened the postponement of the opening group fixture between France and Nigeria at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San José.

However, despite the workload, Dean enjoyed her rewarding experience.

“It was an awesome experience in Costa Rica, on and off the field,” said Dean.

“A lot of lessons were learned. It was an eye opener, even though this is my second FIFA competition.

“Honestly, I really enjoyed my time in Costa Rica although there was a lot of work to be done prior to kick offs. I met new friends and I am looking forward to working with them in the near future.”

Dean is now hopeful to take use of her experiences to benefit her work back in the Cook Islands.

“It will definitely help with the preparation and organisation of our competition however on a smaller scale,” said Dean.

“For example, match coordinator meetings can be more detailed to suit us so our clubs here can fully understand what CIFA is asking and what the clubs can gain from that as well.”

Dean will was back in her role as domestic football returned to the Cook Islands last weekend with the 2022 Rarotonga Football Season kicking off.

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