For Tahitians with even a little sporting nous, the name Anne-Caroline Graffe is a familiar one.
An Olympic silver medallist and world champion in Taekwondo, Graffe is one of Tahiti’s greatest sporting exports.
But what does that have to do with football you ask? During Graffe’s most recent visit back to the Fenua, she took a break from the dojang to give kids in her local community a run for their money on the grass at Manu Ura Football Club.
At the same time, Graffe became the honorary president of the Paea-based club – one of the few in Tahiti with a woman at the helm.
“When Maeva Graffe, the president of Manu Ura Football, proposed this honorific, I didn’t have to think about it very long before accepting,” the Taekwondo champion said.
“Firstly, because it’s something dear to my heart to be able to reinvest in the community which watched me grow up, and it’s in a domain that excites me – sport, youth and communicating the benefits of healthy living and being sportive.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity to go out and meet the youth through a sport that isn’t my own.”
Like many other women and girls across the globe, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup captured the attention of Graffe, who is based in France where this year’s tournament took place.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m terrible at football. I’m don’t really follow football outside of the major competitions, but the women’s world cup completely seduced me. I love the team vibe, the finesse and the engagement of the players.
“Actually, women’s football is on the agenda for Manu Ura and I think that’s a superb idea.”
While being honourary president doesn’t exactly come with any particular tasks, Graffe said it provides an opportunity for her to engage with the community and hopefully offer some moral support to some of the younger club members who might have their eye on becoming an elite athlete too.
“During the inter-community tournament I had a really great time with the kids and they were eager to ask me questions about elite sport. For me, my mission is accomplished.”