Stephanie Spielmann is the Women’s Football Development Officer in Tahiti.
Having arrived in the country from France in 2014, she has continued her coaching path in the Pacific with distinction.
Spielmann started her athletic career focusing on judo and only formally joined a football club in her homeland as a teenager.
She eventually went on to play for FC Vendenheim helping them win a French Second Division title.
Now she is focused on forwarding the women’s game in Tahiti and coaches their national side and U-20 team, while implementing other development strategies.
Spielmann was selected to join the inaugural FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme in 2018 where she was paired with Belgium women’s national team head coach Ives Serneels.
OFC Media caught up with Spielmann for a chat.
How did you get into football originally?
I entered the world of football when I was a child because my father played football. Unfortunately, my parents did not want me to take part because for them it was a sport of boys, so I played street football only. I also competed in judo to a high level when I was younger, which involved training seven days a week with competitions on weekends, so it meant I did not have time join an official football club until I was older.
What inspires you to be a leader in the women’s game?
What inspires me is to change the lives of some girls and women through football. I often say that I’m a lawyer for the women’s game. I fight for recognition, equality and fairness.
How can we expand player numbers in the women’s game in OFC?
I think that each federation really needs to have a person dedicated to the development of women’s football and only to that. Develop the mass of players, the women involved, the coaches and prepare the elite players. This is a big task. We’ve also seen that if we hold more youth championship events, it increases the number of players.
What appealed to you about working in Tahiti?
The challenge of building everything for young people and rebuilding everything for women. I wish that every girl who wants to play football in Tahiti can do it and that she is given an opportunity to do so.
What are you most proud of during your time working in Tahiti?
I must admit that I am satisfied with many things already, but I still have a lot of goals! I am proud to have formed the first U-16 and U-19 women’s teams for Tahiti but also to have contributed to the integration of two Polynesian female players for the first time in the Pôle Espoir of the French Football Federation.
What is your vision for the future of women’s football in Tahiti?
The record of the past three years is good with a strong growth in the number of female players. Now we have to work even more with the clubs to retain girls and women. Each season the goal is to put in place two new programmes. One for development, the other for feminisation, which will increase the opportunities for women in the game.
You took part in the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme, what did it mean to you to be involved and what did you learn from the programme?
I was very happy to be selected. I was also proud to represent Tahiti and Oceania in this programme. This programme has been a really big learning experience for me. I am aware that what I experienced with Ives Serneels and the Belgian team is difficult to put in place for a team in Oceania, but my mentor showed me the important points so that Tahiti can grow in the future. I learned that I need to have the support of my MA, have a strong staff beside me, and stay focused on the game while not trying to be the coach, doctor and steward all at the same time.
What coaching licenses do you hold and what do you aspire to achieve in coaching?
I have a UEFA A Licence. There’s no reason why I cannot earn my UEFA Pro License in the future.