Port Vila representatives Galaxy FC has held off rival provinces from across Vanuatu to claim the inaugural VFF Women’s Champions League title following a 2-1 victory over Huka FC of Shefa Province at Luganville Soccer City Stadium in Santo this week.
Galaxy qualified for the national competition after winning the Port Vila Football Association (PVFA) league, and the travelling squad included six players from runners-up Erakor Golden Star, including Vanuatu national team captain Rita Solomon.
Galaxy captain Elmah Aiviji said the squad were proud to take home the inaugural VFF Women’s Champions League title.
“We are all so proud and happy for our victory knowing that we made history for our club, and not only for our club but for ourselves because it was the first edition of the VFF Women’s Champions League and we are the ones who won it,” Aiviji said.
Eight teams participated in the new competition, each representing a different province, which was held at the popular Luganville Soccer City Stadium on the island of Espiritu Santo.
Making up Group A were Huka 21, Galaxy FC, LL Echo and Urpiv, while Group B included NRTC, Young Star, Tokotara and Banban United.
With three wins from three, Huka 21 topped Group A, with Galaxy joining them in the semi-finals. In Group B it took two wins and a draw for NRTC to take top of the group, with Young Star’s second place finish seeing them through too.
Special mention goes to Banban United who performed valiantly despite not picking up a point in Group B, while Group A contenders Urpiv showed plenty of heart with a lone goal for Leiho Meras against LL Echo highlighting the side’s potential.
Galaxy dominated their semi-final against NRTC from start to finish, going up 4-0 in the first half before an equally clinical second period saw the side earn their place in the final with an 8-0 victory.
A brace inside three minutes for Galaxy captain Elmah Aiviji got the ball rolling for Galaxy. Also on the scoresheet were Pauline Amo with two of her own, while Jane Alatoa, Onica Kaltak, Rita Solomon and substitute Vaina Bong all scoring one apiece.
In the earlier match, Huka 21 were made to earn a 2-1 victory over Young Star after the latter took an early lead through Deborah Vavak in the 13th minute of the match. However, ten minutes later Huka 21 had equalised through former Vanuatu international Daina Kalopong.
The win was sealed shortly before the end of the first half when Delyse Malao fired her side into the lead, a lead they managed to hold onto throughout the second half to secure a place in the final for Huka FC.
In a rematch of their last Group A encounter, the final between Huka 21 and Galaxy promised plenty of excitement and intrigue with Huka having got the better of the Port Vila champions with a 1-0 victory the first time around.
The two sides proved they were still fairly evenly matched, with neither of them able to break the deadlock before the break. It took over an hour into the fixture before Galaxy got the break they were hoping for, as the tournament’s top scorer Jane Alatoa found her form in front of goal once more.
Alatoa then extended Galaxy’s lead in the 83rd minute to all but seal the victory. Huka FC hit back in additional time via substitute Velissa Quai, however the goal was a mere consolation prize as Galaxy held onto their lead to claim the title.
Reflecting on the competition as whole, Aiviji said it was far from an easy ride, despite Galaxy scoring 34 goals and conceding just once in the lead up to the final.
“The competition was a little difficult but we trained hard and believed in ourselves, that we can win this tournament. We know other teams also prepared well,” Aiviji said.
The hosting of the Women’s Champions League marks a milestone in the development of the women’s game in Vanuatu as it aims to keep pace with other nations in the region, while building towards an overall goal of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2027.
“It’s the first time tournament, the first edition. There’s never been a tournament like this before,” Aiviji said.
“Thanks to VFF for organising the tournament and also the sponsors for the tournament. We were so excited and happy to participate in this tournament also, to expose our skills and talent.
“I’m excited about what a competition like this means for women’s football in Vanuatu and I wish for VFF to create more competitions for women.”
Speaking to FIFA.com Emma Evans, OFC Women’s Football Manager, said the Women’s Champions League has been an excellent opportunity for female players across Vanuatu as it offers the chance for the best players across the nation to compete at the highest level more frequently than ever before.
“For these players, having regular games to play in is key in their technical development and is a much-needed step for progressing the women’s game in Vanuatu.”