Tahiti’s breakthrough success at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 is evidence of the potential that is starting to be unlocked in Oceania. Coinciding with the concluding days of the tournament, many of the Oceania Football Confederation’s member nations have been participating at the FIFA/OFC Beach Soccer Seminar.
Held over three days, participants enjoyed topics covering a wide variety of lectures, interactive events and on-field work, all with one goal in mind: growth of the sand-based game in Oceania. Notable, was a presentation from Reynald Temarii, on developing beach soccer and the impressive Tiki Toa national team, as well as the legacy that will be left by the 2013 Beach Soccer World Cup.
So too, there was much interest in the presentation of Joan Cusco, Vice-President of Beach Soccer Worldwide and special adviser to the FIFA Beach Soccer Committee, who talked about his lengthy experience promoting what is a highly marketable sport.
Some of the other dignitaries to attend over the three days and offer their insights included Tahiti FA President, Henri Ariiotima, Football Federation Samoa President, Toetu Petana and the following FIFA Beach Soccer Committee Members Abdiqani Said Arab, Hillaren Frederick, Miroslav Pelta, Dinnanathlall Persunnoo, Chris Wang, Philip White, Souleiman Hassan Waberi, Feizal Sidat, Mohamed Gamal, Damian Dupiellet.
*Inspiration and incentive *Tahiti 2013 will long be remembered for many reasons in the annals of Oceania football. The first FIFA tournament held in the Pacific Islands was itself a cause for celebration. However, the stunning and historic run of Tahiti to the semi-finals has added to the landmark event, as did flair-laden Solomon Islands who were highly unlucky to miss the knockout stage and what would have been a unique Oceania double.
"The performance of Tahiti has inspired me and the Pacific Islands as a whole to have the belief that it is possible to use beach soccer to give our country recognition on an international level,” said Kilifi Uele, Technical Director at the Tonga FA.
“The seminar has opened my eyes that it is very easy to start teaching beach soccer within our federation, especially at grassroots level giving kids the opportunity to play in this new form of football.
"There is great potential for this sport in our country as we have great weather all year round and, even though there are other competing sports such as rugby, beach soccer will give an alternative sport to play especially for the outer islands. It would also be encouraged by the Ministry of Health who are promoting good health."
On the surface it would appear that beach soccer is a natural fit for the Oceania region. The performance of Tahiti and Solomon Islands this past week clearly suggests that is the case. And Tavita Taumua, Chief Executive Officer of the American Samoa FA, certainly believes so.
"I have been extremely impressed by the performances of Tahiti and I feel proud to be from this region knowing that we also have the potential to accomplish great things in Beach Soccer,” he said.
"For American Samoa, which is a territory of the US, sport is well integrated into the culture, therefore beach soccer has massive potential as people are very interested in participating in sport in general, and beach soccer in particular."
The seminar concluded with the group partaking in a practical demonstration at the Tahiti FA headquarters, before attending the To’ato stadium to see the finale to the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for a perfect conclusion to the seminar.