Ba have retained the 2020 Senior Women’s League title after defeating Tailevu Naitasiri 6-2 in the final match of the play-off series last weekend.
The play-off was to be contested by the Southern and Western Champions, after Northern winners Labasa pulled out of the competition, which had been delayed by the pandemic.
For the first time the format featured the play-off teams in a home-and-away fixture, with Ba winning the first leg 6-0.
Ba were dominant throughout the second leg, with Tailevu Naitasiri goalkeeper Wati Kojalau keeping her side in the game. The women in black introduced a number of younger players in the second half, who fit into the squad well, maintaining the pressure on their opponent.
Luisa Tamanitokula, Ba captain, said the hard work of her teammates paid off.
“The success behind our victory is hard work, dedication and commitment from all of us.
“I support our coach for giving the opportunity to some of the new players in the game today (Sunday), they really played well and I salute them,” the captain, Tamaniokula said.
“These new players are just sixteen years old and they have a bright future in football, I thank them for their hard work, commitment and dedication to the team.”
The Fiji international went on to dedicated the league victory to all Ba fans.
“I dedicate this win to all Ba fans, especially those who were affected by the recent flooding and Cyclone Ana.”
For the opposing coach, Tailevu Naitasiri’s Elvin Goundar, two consecutive play-off losses was difficult, but provided a strong foundation to build on ahead of the new season.
“Ba is a very experienced side and they have the most national team players but I am happy with the performance of my girls, despite the loss in both matches,” he said.
“We managed to improve in our second match and we scored two goals against Ba so that shows the girls are learning from the mistakes. We always learn from our mistakes and the results have given us plenty to work on this season.”
The play-off followed an impressive launch for the new Fiji FA Women’s Super League the previous evening.
The Women’s Super League is a new initiative pitting the very best of women’s football in Fiji against each other in an elite six-team competition.
Fiji is not the first Pacific nation, nor will it be the last, to hone their focus on the additional half-spot the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 presents.
Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have all launched leagues in the past six months catering to the players expected to feature in qualifying for the global competition, which will be hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
Fiji FA President, Rajesh Patel, said the new league has the complete support and backing of the Fiji Executive Committee.
“This would not have been possible without FIFA who has embarked on propelling women’s football, together with the men,” he explained.
“It is something great for the nation and great for the women playing football in Fiji because we are proud to be the nation leading Oceania to make a move forward in women’s football.
“Fiji FA will not leave any stones unturned in ensuring the Women’s Super League is a success.”
As well as launching the league, Patel revealed steps forward in the management of Fiji national teams, announcing equal pay for all Fiji international representatives.
“We are there to ensure they are given equal opportunities and one of the major moves our Board has decided, is to give equal amount of allowances to the women players when they are in national team camp, as the men.”
The milestone announcement is the first for a Pacific Island nation and signals a huge cultural shift within the federation.
Fiji FA helped show its commitment to women’s football and the new league in the form of a professionally designed logo to represent the Women’s Super League.
Unveiled by Fiji FA President, Rajesh Patel, and Shazia Usman, UN Women communications and media specialist, the logo is of a spinning frangipani blossom which symbolises the momentum which women’s football is gaining, and its growth.
The centre forms a football, which represents the sport, and the six petals signify the six clubs which make up the first-ever Women’s Super League participants, and reflects the Bula spirit.
The colours were chosen to reflect the natural beauty of Fiji’s flora and fauna, and to inspire thoughts of growth.
Additional reporting: Fiji FA