Today marks International Women’s Day – a paramount event on the Oceania football calendar as countries across the Pacific showcase the women’s game and celebrate development through different projects.
Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, and Fiji have gone the extra mile to create opportunities in women’s football while using the worldwide celebration as a platform to promote the #ENDviolence campaign, a joint OFC and UNICEF initiative to raise awareness about violence against women and children in the Pacific.
Tonga Football Association have extended the celebration to stretch over two days, with Technical Director Kilifi Uele hosting a Women’s Football Administration course for 30 participants on 8 and 9 March. The finals for the Tonga National League will also rollout during the celebrations and a festival is expected to attract over 400 players from across Tongatapu.
Solomon Islands have also expanded their activities over multiple days, kicking off with a Just Play festival, men’s and women’s referee course and a men’s and women’s coaching course on 8 and 9 March. A festival to launch the U-13 and U-15 girls’ leagues will follow on 10 March.
Cook Islands Football hope to target their International Women’s Day festival to encourage youth players back into the game, and have called on the entire women’s football force to make the day bigger than ever. The festival will have all-hands-on-deck, with various clubs and national teams participating in the day’s activities, including Cook Islands Academy U-17 players, former players and future prospects for the national women’s team, 10 female match officials, and over 80 players from women’s football club teams across the country.
Cook Islands Minister of Sport Honourable Albert Nicholas, Cook Islands U-14 girls league sponsors BSP Bank and senior women’s national team sponsor Islander Hotel have also shown their full support and look forward to getting involved in the day.
Fiji Football Association will host three festivals, one in each of the main regions, and is expecting an accumulated crowd of over 450 women and girls participating in activities throughout the day.
All four member associations hope to see the celebration of women’s football continue past International Women’s Day, and retain current players while attracting new players by creating opportunities to thrive in football.