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OFC representation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has not just been in the form of the Football Ferns and match officials. Pauline Dean, of the Cook Islands Football Association, has been serving as match coordinator at Waikato Stadium, which has hosted four games of the tournament.

“I was appointed as FIFA Match Coordinator assisting the FIFA Match Director to ensure that the flow of the matches at our venue is smooth, assisting the teams in any way possible,” said Dean.

Duties include making sure teams and officials are on time, paperwork is filed correctly and all correct FIFA procedures are followed. For Dean, being involved in the first World Cup to be hosted in the Oceania region has made it extra special.

“You have no idea how exciting that we are having it in our region, it gives our people in the Oceania region the opportunity to either attend and watch or just to watch on telly.  Furthermore, with the visit by the FIFA President to our region makes it even more exciting to have the biggest game played in our region.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino made a special trip to all 11 OFC Member Association last week, including a stop to visit the CIFA.

Dean had previous experience in a FIFA competition, having served as a match coordinator earlier this year for the World Cup qualifying tournament.

“The team at Waikato Stadium in the different functional areas were very helpful which made the work easier in a way.  Also, because they were all the same people from the Play-Off tournament, working was so much easier and fun.”

The demands of the job have meant challenges for Dean, however she says that the assistance she has been given has been invaluable.

“It’s a FIFA competition, so it’s big compared to our domestic competition.  Oh I have gained a lot from all FIFA tournaments that I have attended and have applied to our domestic competition however adjusted to our competition.  I believe that if you are stuck in a certain activity, always best to ask for help, and this is what I received right throughout the tournament. Not only in competitions but in the other functional areas as it would help you to understand how it all fits together to deliver a successful match.”

Her favourite match involved a special piece of Women’s World Cup history.

“My favourite was Zambia vs Costa Rica, because at that match Zambia scored the 1000th goal, and it was their first ever in a Women’s World Cup.  We got the ball and boot of the goal scorer to send to FIFA Museum.”

Dean says that while the tournament has been a huge effort, she will leave with happy memories.

“I really enjoyed my time working at this FIFA tournament, it is a lot of work however, it is worth it and the friends you make along the way is always rewarding.”