Four match days into the Beach Soccer 2018 Tour in Tahiti, the favourites Tiki Tama have taken their place at the top of the standings with a clean sweep of victories so far.
The league season kicked off on 20 June and will conclude after nine match days on the 28 July, after which the competition will head into the semi-finals and finals stage.
The competition is divided into three divisions with ten teams competing in the Elite, eight in the Fun and a further eight in the Women’s.
The competition is littered with Tiki Toa, the national beach soccer team, stars including Naea Bennett with Tiki Tama and Teva Zaveroni with Mataiea. However with a number of the national team currently preparing for the upcoming OFC Beach Soccer Championship, there is an opportunity for some newcomers to cement their place on the local scene.
Air Tahiti won a recent match 5-2 against Mataiea – taking them to a tally of three victories – which puts them in third place. Three of their five goals were scored by new recruit Smith Tino who is much better known for his exploits on a futsal court.
But their most recent encounter saw them take on the table-topping Tiki Tama. With Tino absent the side struggled to find their attacking flair and were eventually beaten 9-5.
Former Tiki Toa captain and beach soccer ambassador Naea Bennett recently returned from Switzerland and said the level of beach soccer in Tahiti is on the rise.
“There’s a number of footballers who have joined in this year, the teams like Tefana, also Papeete, Arue, Papenoo. The football clubs are playing the game this year,” Bennett said.
“There are more teams in every category this year, we’ve gone from four to eight team in the women’s.”
The recent FIFA Beach Soccer Referee Course has had a positive influence on the competition and how it flows.
“This year, we have around 15 qualified referees,” he said.
“They’ve just gone through the FIFA course with our friend Lakhdar Benchabane. It’s great. We still have errors, that’s normal, but it’s a good omen. With good referees, we can have good matches.”