With the Festival des îles, FIFA Forward helps to grow Polynesian football

Since its foundation in 1989, the Tahitian Football Association (FTF) has striven for the promotion and development of football throughout the islands, which are often difficult to access and reach, but still boast over 200,000 inhabitants.

As a result, with the support of the FIFA Forward Programme, the idea was born to organise a series of football festivals with the purpose of gathering all the communities and members of the football-loving community living in neighbouring islands. Centred around various competitions including football, futsal and beach soccer for all age and gender categories, it was decided the event would take place yearly.

In 2018, 141 teams participated, gathering almost 2,000 players. This year’s edition will take place from 8-13 April in Pirae, a commune in the suburbs of Papeete in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean home to nearly 15,000 inhabitants.

The event will mark the 11th edition of the competition, which originally started in 2008. Organisers expect 7,000 spectators and hope the festival will attract even more islanders who are passionate about the beautiful game.

By continuing to hold similar social events, FTF, with the support of FIFA Forward, aims to attract more players with a key aim of developing and extending women’s football across the region. Last year, many female players took part in the competition and team AS Te Ui Tefana proudly won and took the cup home.

The sporting event is not only aimed at maintaining the enthusiasm of all island participants but also at increasing the number of football fans and players, especially female players, and scouting potential recruits for the national teams.

Improving the level of island coaches is also a crucial part of the process, as well as fostering healthy standards of living and ensuring medical controls for all players, including on islands that do not have access to doctors and medical facilities.