Yesterday marked the last day on the OFC roster for Women’s Football Development Officer Nicola Demaine, but the aspiring football coach is looking forward to focusing the next few years of her life on achieving her dream.
“I plan to develop myself further as a football coach and coach educator,” she said.
“On gaining my A Licence and more experience in a coaching environment I hope to be able to offer even more in the future to assist with the development of football for women in our region.”
Demaine made the difficult decision to step down from the demanding women’s football development role to allow more hours in the day for coaching, but she said she is leaving the OFC extended family with a heavy heart after working with so many inspiring people.
“Leaving this position to follow my dreams was an easy decision, but leaving the amazing people of the Pacific is very hard, and I don’t think I can ever truly leave,” she said.
“I will never forget the humility and generosity of the people I have met. I have had some amazing experiences from the remote islands of Tonga to the windy capital of New Zealand. There have been many special moments, witnessing women become strong and lead in their communities, watching a once shy Lynette Faaiuaso of Samoa at the front of a classroom leading coach education and seeing the growth of Margaret Aka of Papua New Guinea leading her charges at the Youth Olympics.”
Throughout her five years in the role, Demaine has given her full energy in contributing to the progress of women’s football across the region, and the results have been astounding.
“When I started my job I remember a man telling me it was a waste of time, women’s football will never grow or improve around Oceania,” she said.
“We now have national or regional leagues for seniors and youth in most of our Member Associations. We have had five women attend the OFC B Licence coaching course and it is now compulsory to have a qualified female coach on the coaching teams of the U-17 and U-20 national women’s teams at OFC competitions. Playing numbers have increased dramatically, with over 1500 new players joining organised football in 2015, our peak year of growth.
“Women’s football has moved from an often isolated position away from technical departments with one passionate women driving it, to full integration into the technical department with many men advocating for women and girls to have good opportunities to play football.”
Witnessing the change first-hand has been the biggest reward for Demaine, and has motivated her to keep pushing for the development of the women’s game.
“Seeing hundreds of girls at festivals trying football for the first time with a big smile on their face is priceless and watching the numbers of girls and women playing across the pacific rise has been very rewarding,” she said.
“The most recent highlight was seeing Nicolette Ageva, a humble girl from the remote Bougainville Island, scoring against world champions North Korea in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. This alone shows how far women’s football has come in our region.”
Despite standing at the helm throughout all of these huge accomplishments in the region, Demaine credits these milestones in women’s football to the dedicated people throughout the Pacific that she has had the pleasure to work with.
“These achievements are a result of the hard work of the staff in the Member Associations. My contribution has only been in motivating and upskilling the heads of these programmes to be able to deliver,” she said.
“We all know there are many challenges to delivering football in Oceania, the key is to be able to keep going and achieve results despite the challenges. I was privileged to work with many amazing technical directors and women’s football development officers.
“I would like to thank all of the Member Association and OFC staff, as well as Mr Tai Nicholas and Mr David Chung, for their support and belief in me over the past five years.”