“The Confederations Cup was a key experience that enabled us to better understand the gap between amateur and top international football,” explained coach Eddy Etaeta. “ To do better at an international level we will need more professional players in our team. This is our main objective for the future.”
In spite of losing all three games, conceding 24 goals and scoring just one, Etaeta is convinced of the benefits the Brazil trip had for his team: “I believe the decent level of play, and the respect and pride shown by my players marked the participation of our team in the Confederations Cup. The experience made us aware of the huge expectations and contrasts that exist when it comes to top international football. All in all, Tahiti contributed to the Confederations Cup with its human and sporting spirit beyond the scope of professional sports.”
As a former student of the coaching courses organised by the Tahitian Football Federation (FTF) in cooperation with FIFA, Etaeta believes that well-implemented development programmes will play a pivotal role in the future of Tahiti’s football.
“The participation in the Confederations Cup was to a great extent the result of the development projects implemented in Tahiti,” he said. “We had one of the youngest rosters of the Confederations Cup, with an average age of 26, and a few of our players like Rainui Aroita and Yoann Tihoni benefited from training at our Elite Player Development Academy. We have to keep on promoting the development of young talents in order to be able to export them to professional clubs.”
Beach soccer boost
Since 2002, FIFA has approved the implementation of five Goal projects in Tahiti with a total investment of approximately 3.5 million USD. Besides the Elite Player Development Academy (Goal 5) that has benefited approximately 120 players since 2010, funds have been used for the construction of a technical centre (Goal 4, 3 and 2), and a football pitch (Goal 1).
Now the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup that will take place from 18-28 September 2013 in Papeete is set to become a new boost for Tahiti’s football.
Etaeta said: “I’m convinced the organisation of the Beach Soccer World Cup will have a general impact on the economy, tourism and sports of our country. A wide variety of activities, such as coaching and referee seminars, as well as football courses at schools will be implemented in the coming months thus multiplying the benefits of the event.”
According to FTF figures, 146 clubs throughout the French Polynesia Islands, with over 11,200 registered male and female players, participate in football activities on a regular basis. During the 2012/13 season, 11 clubs played in Tahiti’s Premier Division, the majority based in Papeete. The second division comprised eight teams. AS Dragon represented Tahiti in the OFC Champions League 2013.