Tonight’s OFC U-17 Championship 2023 final will begin on a somber note, as players, officials and the crowd will observe a minute’s silence to mark the passing of Ruben Kutran.

The 20-year-old passed away on New Year’s Eve, in Bordeaux, France. Kutran was a New Caledonia representative at the 2018 OFC U-17 tournament, playing in three matches, captaining the side and scoring a goal against Samoa.

New Caledonia’s Ruben Kutran (right) celebrates his goal. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

Kutran was a part of the famous Girodins de Bordeaux club in France. As a player, he was respected by his team mates for his exemplary behaviour and was also thought of as a kind, respectful and passionate young man. Sylvain Blaquart, who coached Kutran at U15 level, recalled his “superb attitude.”

“He was very serious, listened hard, wanted to improve and always made the effort. It was always a pleasure working with him.”

Another tribute came from Girodins Academy supervisor Mohamed Moumtaz, who said that Kutran was ” a diplomatic, popular boy, always smiling and always respectful to everybody around him. I use to call him ‘the wise man.'”

His passing is a big loss to the football community in New Caledonia. At their last training before their final in Suva against New Zealand, the New Caledonia U-17 team paid tribute to their compatriot by displaying a framed photo of Kutran.

Kutran was born in Lifou, New Caledonia in 2002. After displaying great talent he moved to France to play for Girondins Bordeaux in 2017, going through all the club’s youth divisions and eventually playing National 3 for Bordeuax’s B team.

OFC’s thoughts are with Kutran’s family and friends, as well as the entire New Caledonian football community at this time.