It is something of a cliché that football brings people together. However, at the recent OFC U-19 Championships that cliché proved true. In fact it went one better, by bringing a family, separated across two different Pacific nations, together in Tahiti.
While American Samoa may have exited at the group stage of the competition following three defeats from three games some of their players still managed to stand out. Petu Pouli, in particular, proved a handful at times for his opponents in fixtures against the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
Off the pitch, Pouli also had the opportunity to meet his older brother, Folio Moeaki, in person for the first time.
Moeaki was part of the match officials delegation at the tournament, representing Tonga. The 40-year-old worked as an assistant referee for four games at the competition, including the final between Fiji and eventual champions New Zealand.
Speaking to the FFAS media team toward the end of the competition, Moeaki expressed his gratitude at being able to finally meet his little brother.
“I am very happy we met under these circumstances,” he said.
“It’s a once in a lifetime sort of thing. I came to Tahiti to referee under OFC to represent Tonga and my baby brother came to play for FFAS in the same tournament.
“I was able to watch him play and am very proud of who he is. I look forward to more of these encounters with Petu.”
In response, Pouli said he was “excited” and “grateful” to have been given this opportunity through football.
With Moeaki a core member of OFC’s match official group and Pouli only just embarking on his fledgling international career, there is every chance this was just the first of many future meetings between the two brothers going forward.