New Caledonia aims for growth in North

New Caledonia during the anthems. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018, Tahiti vs. New Caledonia, Stade Yoshida, Kone, New Caledonia, Sunday 18th November 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /
New Caledonia during the anthems. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018, Tahiti vs. New Caledonia, Stade Yoshida, Kone, New Caledonia, Sunday 18th November 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

This week the women’s football event, La Belle et Le Foot, is heading to the north to give women ranging from 6 to 77 years old an opportunity to enjoy the world’s most popular sport.

It’s the second edition of the 100 per cent female festival, which was created and launched by the Fédération Calédonienne de Football (FCF) technical department in 2020, and will take place across two days.

The first festival will take place on Thursday, May 13 in Koné, followed by Poindimié on Friday. It’s the second time La Belle et Le Foot has visited the north, with Poindimié welcoming the first edition of the series in November 2020 before it visited the Loyalty Islands.

“It’s an event for an entirely female audience, from 6 to 77 years old, with the idea being that every registered girl, comes with a non-registered girl,” said Charlotte Pellitier, FCF Women’s Football Development Officer.

“Our aim remains the same, namely promotion and initiation of and to football. There will be lots of small matches, workshops, different forms of practice, and everyone will be rewarded for their participation.”

Comite Provincial Nord de Football women’s member, Linda Nerhon, said the hope is that the festival will help kick start the growth of the women’s game in New Caledonia’s northern region.

In 2018 Koné, on the north-west coast, hosted an OFC Women’s Nations Cup group featuring New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia and Samoa with the belief seeing the best players the region had to offer would kickstart the growth of the women’s game in the region.

However Nerhon said unfortunately it hasn’t quite been the case.

“It was definitely an event which inspired a lot of young girls to look at football as an option. However we don’t have the human resource and coaches needed to run women’s football,” she said.

“The girls integrate into the clubs which are well structured, but we’re missing out on a lot of other girls who want to play.”

In addition to igniting the interest of interested women and girls in the community, Nehron believes this week’s festivals can act as a call to action to local clubs to step up in regards to women’s football.

“The objective of the festival is to allow women and girls to discover football, but also to assemble all these women in one place to show that the girls are asking for access to football, and that the clubs need to turn up to register these girls and create their women’s teams.”

JS Baco in 2019. Credit: CPNF

Having a women’s team in the club environment is one of the obligations which have been put in place at a provincial and national level, but clubs have been slow to fulfil it.

“We have one registration for all disciplines, a team can sign up for football and futsal, and three clubs have done that so far; JS Baco, Hienghene Sports and Sporting Club de Ponerihouen,” Nehron explained of the current status of women’s football in the Province Nord.

“Other teams prefer only football, or only futsal. So we have six futsal clubs and four registered for football in the senior category.

“In the youth category, one club has an U-15 women’s team, the others have mixed teams up to U-15. We can have three 2005, or players aged 16 years old, playing with the seniors.”

La Belle et le Foot takes place at Stade Yoshida in Koné today from 9am to 5pm and tomorrow at the Stade Municipal in Poindimié at the same times.

© 2021 All rights reserved