Women’s football gaining ground in Vanuatu

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When Galaxy FC beat Erakor Golden Star 4-2 in a penalty shootout to take the 2021 PVFA Super Cup home last Friday, it was a momentous occasion for more than just what happened on the field.

It was the first women’s football match to ever be live-streamed from Vanuatu to audiences across the globe, marking an historic and incredibly important step in the women’s game for the Melanesian nation.

Both clubs involved in Friday’s final have enjoyed success in the men’s game, and have now set themselves ambitious targets for their respective women’s teams.

Josiah Russell, President of Erakor Golden Star, said the club executive is shifting its focus from the Premier League to its grassroots programme.

“We want to focus on all the U-12, U-14 and U-16 year olds, and building that through both male and female opportunities,” he said.

“The Port Vila Football Association has done a great job in re-establishing all these divisions in their leagues. It makes our job easier to get the kids out on the field playing.”

Since it was founded in 2014, ABM Galaxy FC men’s team has enjoyed an upward trajectory from the Port Vila Second Division through to Port Vila Premier League. In 2019 they qualified for their first OFC Champions League campaign.

The club is hoping to emulate that level of continued success with the women’s side.

“One of the goals for the club is to make the women’s side as successful as the men,” Galaxy women’s team manager Jill Bule said.

Moise Poida, a PVFA employee with ties to Galaxy FC, in his role as commentator of the final also provided some insight into he club’s approach to the men’s and women’s senior sides.

“All sponsorship is divided equally between the men and women. For example, Digicel is a major sponsor and they provide 5000 Vatu credit to very man and every girl player at Galaxy.

The move to support greater opportunities for women in football is backed completely by the Port Vila Football Association and its new executive, which was elected in October 2020.

PVFA Vice President, and Vice President of Erakor Golden Star, Harry Atisson said the Super Cup is just the start of new competitions the organisation is putting in place to assist with the promotion of women’s football in Vanuatu’s capital.

“Following the Super Cup, PVFA will start the Women’s Championship 2021 with seven affiliated clubs. That is followed by the Independence Cup competition and finally the Closing Cup 2021. So we will have four women’s football competitions this year,” he said.

“PVFA would like to see in the future, all clubs affiliated with PVFA must have a women’s football team.”

Another Port Vila-based club, Tafea FC, recently launched its women’s team and more are expected to follow.

It’s a trend happening across the nation with Luganville Football Association, based on Santo, recently launching its women’s league and youth leagues for boys and girls, along with a referee programme which incorporates both genders in its development plans.

This is just the beginning, but the future is looking very bright for the women’s game in Vanuatu.

As Harry Atisson, the voice of Vanuatu sports, says: “Lets work together to supportem women’s football!”

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