The U16 women’s team are leaving soon for th OFC Tournament in Tahiti . Photo: Supplied
By Nicholas mwai


Vanuatu U-16 girls’ team will be departing soon for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Women’s Championship scheduled in Tahiti this month.

The girls are preparing for this regional tournament with sheer determination. Half of the team will begin their journey this Friday while the rest will depart a week later on September 15.

Coach Nesta Moli said this split travel plan is due to limited flight options, as the entire team cannot be accommodated at once.

The first group, consisting of 13 players and three officials, will set off on the first flight, followed by the second group comprising seven players and four officials.

Altogether, a squad of 20 talented players and seven officials will be representing Vanuatu at the tournament.

This highly anticipated tournament will feature teams from 10 different nations battling it out for glory. Vanuatu is in Pool C, and their first match will be against Fiji and the second match will be against host country, Tahiti.

Building this elite squad has been a journey marked by dedication and patience. Initially, 17 schools were invited to participate in trial matches, but only four schools answered the call. Despite this initial setback, a group of 40 players was selected.

Over time, the squad underwent rigorous assessment and was eventually trimmed down to a final list of 23 players following three months of intense training.

The team faced their first significant test on July 6th when they played their inaugural 90-minute game.

Coach Moli, with unwavering determination, expressed her belief that this selection squad serves a greater purpose in the revival of women’s football in Vanuatu, which has remained inactive for approximately five years.

Following the trial matches, a comprehensive reselection process took place, leading to the final selection of 20 players.

Moli acknowledged the many challenges faced, from securing passports for the team members to organizing catering during training sessions.

She extended her heartfelt gratitude to the supportive parents who not only facilitated passport acquisition but also helped manage their children’s training schedules, especially considering the players’ school commitments.

As the team readies itself for this significant journey, Moli shared their ambitious goal.

“We want the team to reach the quarter-finals, semi-finals, or even the finals of the tournament,” she said.

Their aspiration is to revive the spirit of women’s football in Vanuatu and make a lasting impact on the U16 OFC Tournament