With women’s football on the ascendency in Oceania both 2019 OFC women’s tournaments have garnered a growing interest across the Pacific.
Building on New Zealand’s historic third place finish at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018, which has captured the imagination of the entire region, women’s football is set to record another major milestone during the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2019 with all eleven member associations registering their desire to participate for the first time in OFC history.
Meanwhile the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019 has also attracted plenty of attention with Solomon Islands being the only country not to take part.
The official draw for both tournaments was completed on 17 April at the OFC Academy in Auckland with Competitions Director Chris Kemp assisted by Women’s Development Officer Emma Evans.
Hosted by the Cook Islands OFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2019 will take place between 30 August and 12 September.
Drawn into Group A the hosts will face Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu, while in Group B defending champions New Zealand will compete against American Samoa, Samoa and Tahiti.
Group C will consist of Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Tonga.
OFC Competition Director Chris Kemp was delighted to see all member associations involved in the tournament.
“It’s a historic moment for women’s football in Oceania and just shows how rapidly the game is developing in the Pacific.
“As the New Zealand U-17 side has demonstrated, women’s football has an enormous potential to put our region on the global map and we are excited to see some of the best emerging talent on display,” said Kemp.
OFC Women’s Development Officer Emma Evans echoed these sentiments.
“This will be an exciting opportunity for all MAs to showcase their talent and compete for a spot at the 2020 U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Personally, I am looking forward to seeing a number of players who competed in the 2017 OFC U-16 Women’s Championship make the step up to the U-19 age group and see how much they have developed back in their regions over the last two years,” Evans explained.
Closely following the U-19 tournament, the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019 will take place between 30 September and 12 October, with the winner earning the rights to represent Oceania at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2020.
Cook Islands, Tahiti and Fiji will need to overcome defending champions New Zealand in the race for Group A supremacy while in Group B Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu will battle for top spot.
Meanwhile, American Samoa, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea will face each other in Group C.
Evans says the U-16 Women’s Championship provides a great opportunity for players from across the Pacific to be exposed to an international tournament.
“It is an extremely exciting time for these young players, most of whom will be representing their country for the first time.
“It is here where we hope to see the fruits of their labour, after being involved in training programmes in their MA’s Centre of Excellence for a number of years, they are now able to test themselves against the rest of the region.
There is a lot of exciting young talent coming through, which sets this up to be a great competition,” added the OFC Women’s Football Development Officer.
Kemp says OFC is looking forward to both tournaments with great excitement.
“At OFC we have ambitious targets to grow women’s football both in terms of participation at grassroots level as well as at international level and we believe both the U-19 and U-16 tournaments are part of our ongoing development programme,” the OFC Competitions Director explained.
OFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2019
30 Aug – 12 Sep, Cook Islands
Group A – Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu
Group B – American Samoa, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti
Group C – Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Tonga
OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019
30 Sep – 12 Oct, (TBC)
Group A – Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, NZ
Group B – Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu
Group C – American Samoa, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea