If the annual Festival des Iles (aka Challenge Alphonse Greig) can be considered as Tahiti’s ‘world cup’, then the returning Jeux des Archipels would be the qualifiers.
The Jeux des Tuamotu Est were held in late July and the Jeux des Australes took place from 5-11 August.
In Tuamotu Est, a young Reao side knocked off everyone in their path on the way to the final.
Once their they were beaten 4-3 by Tatakoto, who were playing in front of their own vocal home crowd.
In the women’s competition Reao had more luck, with their side taking home gold.
FTF futsal administrator Flavien Raparii said the rapid development just within the period of competition during the Jeux de Tuamotu Est was evident.
“You could say that before the games in Tatakoto, the level of futsal was relatively low, the sport was underdeveloped,” Raparii said.
“By the end of the tournament you can say that the islands have progressed, especially Reao and Tatakoto, who were a cut above. The Tuamotus are known for loving futsal thanks to some Takaroa youths, the Tino brothers, who make up the team of Viarei one of the best teams in Polynesia.”
Raparii attributes the development in Reao to the return of Tehau Aranui to his native island after five years in Tahiti.
“Upon his return to Reao, he was able to put in place trainings and the level of the youth improved. Futsal is achievable because you don’t need a lot to play, just a flat surface is enough.”
Raparii is confident futsal will continue to develop and grow thanks to this competition, and expects to see a great turnout at future Festival des Iles from Tuamotu Est.
“Following the games, the managers of each delegation I spoke with, said that upon their return to their respective islands, they will be starting up futsal with the goal of entering a team in the Festival des Iles. These games have had a real impact in Tuamotu Est,” he said.
Raparii acknowledged the Jeux des Tuamotu Est organisers as well as the mayor Ernest Teagai and the youth and sport sector for the region as well as FTF, for helping the games take place.
“I am very happy to see that we are able to help develop the level of futsal in the islands. I think that in the future we will see it really take off.”