Photo Credit: Ryan Temu FTF – Fijian players take part in Media Training ahead of the tournament

Fiji is a team on a mission at the OFC  U-16 Women’s Championship in Tahiti. The Junior Kulas are coached by Angeline Chua who took the Fiji U-19 side to the final of the recent OFC U-19 Championship held in Fiji.

Along with Vanuatu, Fiji was an early arrival into Papeete. They have been drawn in a tough looking Group B alongside tournament favourites New Zealand, Vanuatu, and the Cook Islands.

Coach Angeline Chua says they went through an extensive process to pick the squad.

“I think we went through the same process of talent identification (as the U-19), So we went to all the islands and then we had about 150 candidates. From there we did our selection for the final 23. They are under 16 so it’s a new generation and we are learning together and trying to make sure the players learn as much as possible in this tournament,” Chua said.

(Fiji coach Angeline Chua)

Preparation is the key for Chua and giving the players their first taste of international football is an important step in their careers.

“ I think we are trying to make sure that they have a good experience that’s so important because they’re staying in the game at this age is very important because the key thing is for them to make it into the senior team. So our plan is to make sure that they enjoy the game, enjoy the tournament, and learn as much as possible.”

For 14-year-old  striker Shania Singh, being selected to represent her country is a dream come true.

“I’m proud because I’ve been a football ever since I was two. I’ve always been motivated by my father, my family. They’ve always motivated me to play soccer because Dad was also a soccer player. And it’s just a dream come true.”

So what was it like to receive a call from the coach informing her of her selection?

“I was most probably the most excited person. Because there were many good players, strong players, tough players and being one of the 23 players just feels amazing,” Singh said.

Fiji opens its campaign against Vanuatu on Thursday (Friday NZT).