Wednesday night’s semi-final results weren’t just a win for Fiji on the field, with the 3-1 result over the Solomon Islands bringing ecstatic cheers of joy from a raucous home crowd. Support has steadily built for the home side as they attempt to not only lift the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022, but also book themselves a place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament next February in New Zealand.
As it has been over two and a half years since international women’s football has been played on home soil, fans were naturally excited to see the Kulas in action. Brothers Avnil and Avishan Chand, from Nausori, said the team made them feel “proud”.
“Normally we watch men’s football a lot,” said Avnil.
“But the way the Fijian women play, for sure they will win the tournament.”
“It is a nice game, the way they play, it is great for Fijian people to come and watch.” added 14-year-old Avishan.
While their team bowed out of the tournament, the Solomon Islands team had great support from the local Solomons community. Many students came along to cheer on their team, like 22 year-old Simon and his group of five friends.
“I have enjoyed this tournament very, very much,” he said.
“I love watching them represent their country. I think they are very skilful and talented, just like the men. It’s great to see them wear the shirt.”
Craig, a 25-year-old Solomons supporter, said that:
“Very good to see them, setting a new standard of the game. I usually watch men’s, but as long as it’s played beautifully I want to watch. It’d be good to see women’s football increase and get more recognition.”
Also inspired was a potential member of the next generation of Fiji football. Shania, a 13—year-old girl watching with her family, is looking forward to the team possibly enjoying a memorable win in the final.
“I love watching Fiji play because they are women and they treat everyone the way I want to be treated. I won’t miss the final.”