They’ve been in some form of training since April 2019, and now four months later the Tahiti U-19 women’s team will make their international debut at the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in the Cook Islands.
Tahiti has never before had a team participate at this level, and coach Stephanie Spielmann says the squad is excited about making history for the nation.
“After the Tamahine Ura in 2017, the Vahine Ura in 2019, we now have teh Hine Taure’a in 2019! It’s important for the girls to have goals and objectives,” Spielmann said.
“It’s a young team, but it’s a team that has a certain level of experience because for some of the players this is already their fourth international competition.
“It’s also a real sense of pride for us to be able to say this is a team which represents Polynesia, because we have a player from Moorea, two from Nuku Hiva, one from Fatu Hiva and another from Tahaa.
“Each of them brings something to the team, and we’re excited to get underway.”
The team will open their campaign against American Samoa tomorrow, a week after their arrival in the Cook Islands.
“We’ve had four training sessions since we arrived and we’ve been able to work on some of the final details. The girls have been alternating between preventative care, massages, rest and homework.
“We’ve settled in well and now the girls are ready and waiting to get underway.
“We don’t know too much about our opponents. I was able to see their senior team at the Pacific Games and they struggled, but I don’t know much more than that.
“We’re focusing on ourselves because we know that in this competition the little details will be what counts: hydration, sleep, nutrition.
“We’re in a tough group with Samoa and New Zealand as well so every match is important. To start off well in the competition, we need to win this first match and be dynamic in the physical challenges.”
Spielmann, who is also responsible for women’s football development in Tahiti, is excited about what the prospect of a full complement of national teams means for the women’s game in French Polynesia.
“The national team is a source of pride and the players have to be role models, inspiring young girls to take up football, to work hard, and with diligence, so they too can wear the national shirt.”
The Hine Taure’a kick off their first OFC U-19 Women’s Championship match against American Samoa on Saturday 31 August at 4pm (local).