The appointment of Reynald Temarii as president of the OFC in 2004 heralded a new era for Oceania. It was the first time a French-speaker had been appointed in the position. Not only was he young and Polynesian, but he was an experienced politician. In tandem with General Secretary, Tai Nicholas, he has brought a sense of vibrancy to the role.
Pragmatic and intelligent, Temarii wasted no time in announcing the restructuring of the organisation of the OFC upon his election with a list of reforms aimed at raising the game's profile within and outside the region.
He concentrated mainly on the organisation's financial position and reviewing existing systems affecting operations and competitions. His background in politics (he was a former French Polynesian Minister of Sport) and as an international for Tahiti has put him in good stead to oversee the changes.
My 2006: Reynald Temarii
For me, the most important moment of 2006 was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the OFC on Wednesday 15 November during our 40th anniversary celebrations in Tahiti.
The agreement acknowledges football's status in taking part in health, social and cultural policies of the different governments in the region. Furthermore, for me, it stands as the text defining the upcoming role of the OFC, as an active partner on which each government of our 13 Member Associations can use to create sustainable development in the area.
2006 has been a tremendous year for OFC and its national associations. When Australia departed for the AFC, it was the beginning of a new adventure for us and we overcame many challenges very successfully. I will remember 2006 as a year of great progress for the OFC.
However, Australia still plays an important role in the region. The human, technical and financial resources granted by the Australian government to the Pacific countries explain why the OFC should support Australia in future projects.
At the close of this year, the progress made since Australia's departure is thrilling, exceptional even. For the first time ever OFC was represented by a national association other than Australia or New Zealand in the final stages of a FIFA World Cup (Beach Soccer) when the Solomon Islands recorded a historical victory registered on the Copacabana against CAF champions, Cameroon, winning 5-2.
In the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup , a young New Zealand side drew against Brazil 0-0 and had a very close match with Russia. Plus, Auckland City has performed with great bravery, courage and commitment in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan .
For many people, this year will be remembered as the year of Germany 2006. As a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, I had the privilege to be seated in the official areas. But, for some matches, I chose to be in the stands to feel the excitement of supporters. It was an unforgettable experience.
During 2006, two moments captured the spirit of Fair Play when the UN Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan and the President of the European Commission, Mr Manuel Barroso, both publicly recognized football as an extraordinary tool to convey the values of respect and solidarity to people throughout the world. Their declarations illustrated the respect FIFA, and President Blatter, are enjoying on the international stage. In my eyes, this is highly deserved recognition for the 'Football for Hope' programme.
The future of the game is young people - they are such an inspiration in my role as president. I was particularly moved when I visited Vanuatu and met the children of three primary schools. Though I do not live in the country, I felt concerned by some of the issues facing the ni-Vanuatu people, such as the high rate of school drop-outs. It is on such occasions as this that the load of responsibilities weighs heavily on my shoulders. As football is the most popular sport in the Pacific, it is the duty of the OFC to help where we can - and we will continue to help them in the coming years.
As for the future, I hope that the war in Iraq and conflict in the world will cease - and that strides will be made to eradicate poverty and poor health. In football, I hope that the spirit of the game will remain, that standards particularly in the OFC will continue to rise - and that New Zealand can build upon their efforts so far to create a wonderful first FIFA Women's World Cup in 2008 .