Tahiti’s U-19 national women’s team came together for six days last month to officially launch a senior women’s league on Raiatea Island.
Known as Hine Taure’a, the youth team travelled to Raiatea and played two promotional football games against the island’s best locals.
They also conducted the ‘Hine Festival’, a one-day workshop to help prepare the next generation of female educators on and off the field.
Members of the Tahiti Football Association went on the trip, including Women’s Development Officer Stephanie Spielmann.
Spielmann said it was a fulfilling experience for all and a progressive step towards Tahiti’s 2017-2021 women’s football strategy goals.
“The first two years were dedicated to implementing an U-23 senior women’s league, the third focussed on U-11 and U-15 youth development and now it’s time to have active women’s leagues on our islands Moorea and Raiatea,” she said.
“The Raiatea competition will see four teams play eight-a-side and hopefully next year we will see an U-15 girls competition. Hosting festivals like Hine is a good solution to getting more female youth players into clubs.
“It was also awesome to see our U-19 squad step up as ambassadors of Tahiti women’s football.
“For us we wanted to ensure they understood their role as national players and our expectations of them.”
U-19 Hine Taure’a captain Vahuariki Tufaunui said it was great to bond with her team while giving back to the local game.
“As captain I believe good team culture creates chemistry on the field,” she said.
“Being able to be with our teammates for all hours of a day and not only play football but learn more about each other through other activities created a lot of memories for us.
“I really enjoyed being a part of the entire week, in particular the Hine Festival.
“We were able to apply what we had learned onto our younger girls and come out stronger as overall female players.”
Tahiti have made significant improvements in female youth football in recent years and the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in the Cook Islands in 2019 marked Tahiti’s first appearance at that event.
The Hine Taure’a performed admirably as they finished second in their group behind eventual champions New Zealand and beat Vanuatu in the third-place playoff to claim a bronze medal.