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International Youth tournament a hit in Lifou

The New Caledonia U-15 squad.

Over the past week the New Caledonian island of Lifou, birthplace to World Cup winner Christian Karembeu, played host to emerging talent from across Oceania and Australia.

Teams from New Caledonia, New Zealand and Australia descended on the Loyalty island to take part in the Loyalty International Football U-15 tournament.

Two academy squads from professional clubs Melbourne Victory FC in Australia and Wellington Phoenix Soccer School in New Zealand, joined a squad representing New Caledonia and a Loyalty Island team.

After a week of matches the final saw Melbourne Victory beat Wellington Phoenix 3-2 to become the first-ever winners of the Loyalty International Football U-15 tournament.

Fédération Calédonienne de Football technical director Dominique Wacalie said the premise of the tournament was sporting development, but also an opportunity for cultural exchanges.

“The goal is to play football, but also to link up with the the cultural side,” he said.

“The young people who have come from overseas are also discovering our culture. The idea is to integrate all the values that we can find in sport like respect and humility, and it’s helped put the youths at ease during this project.”

Despite finishing third behind the two visiting sides, New Caledonia’s U-15 coach Patrick Diaiké was pleased with the performances against professional academy sides.

“The last match allowed us to finish right,” he said.

“We were disciplined, we had a good attitude and we were able to finish the match without conceding any goals. The objective, to work collectively, was achieved.”

The fourth team in the competition, the Island representative team, was made up of players from Lifou who were invited to participate following the withdrawal of Vanuatu.

The team were impressive despite a short preparation period, with two players having been earmarked to join the next national team camp.

Results:
Day 1
New Caledonia 3-0 Island representatives
Melbourne Victory FC 3-2 Wellington Phoenix

Day 2
New Caledonia 0-1 Wellington Phoenix
Islands Representatives 1-3 Melbourne Victory FC

Day 3
Wellington Phoenix 7-3 Island representatives
Melbourne Victory FC 0-1 New Caledonia

3/4 Place Play-off
New Caledonia 3-0 Island representatives

Final
Melbourne Victory 3-2 Wellington Phoenix

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