Twice a week, since November 2021, Toahotu field in Taiarapu Ouest (West Taiarapu) comes alive with one of the best sounds out – women playing football.
In a bid to keep the club relevant and responding to the needs of the community, Taiarapu FC president Youenn Virmaux reinstated the women’s football programme late last year.
“We haven’t had a women’s team since the fusion, five years ago, and for at least ten years in Toahotu,” Virmaux said.
The fusion Virmaux refers to is the July 2015 merging of AS Vairao from the Vairao township and AS Roniu in Teahupoo to create Taiarapu FC, a new club which covers the three townships of Toahotu, Vairao and Teahupoo and boasts 208 registered players.
“We were made aware that there are a lot of players at Toahotu and from there, the idea to relaunch women’s football came about starting with this part of the community,” Virmaux said.
Every Wednesday and Friday afternoon the senior women and U-15 girls are taken through paces by coach, Samuel Teotahi.
“We started women’s football again in November and we quickly put them into competition,” Teotahi said.
“It was the club’s idea because we knew the girls were motivated, from the beginners to those who have played before.”
Most of the squad are based in Toahotu, and Teotahi said they have shown great commitment to the team and its objectives.
“I’m incredibly proud of my girls,” he said, “they’re capable of going far and we’re working on it.
“The advantage is that they all get along well and that they have a team spirit.”
Among those players pleased to have football back in the community is 20-year-old Tauhani Faniu, one of the senior squad members.
“We started training in November and at the end of two or three weeks, we had our first matches,” she said.
“I’ve played since I was little but I stopped when I arrived in Tahiti for my studies, I’m originally from Huahine.
“When I heard that the club was relaunching the women’s team, I didn’t hesitate. I appreciate being able to play in a team and play against other clubs.”
Teanihere Teotahi is the 14-year-old captain of the U-15 team and said she followed her dad, who is also the coach, into football when she was five.
“Football is a motivating sport. I enjoy the team spirit that we have; whether we win or lose, we do it together!
“We’ve already had a few matches, five-a-side and eight-a-side, we’re getting better little by little.”
The Taiarapu FC senior women’s side is playing in the 2nd Division women’s league where, although they site one up from the bottom of the table, they have caused a few upsets along the way.
A 2-1 victory over traditionally strong side AS Tefana in December was a highlight, while a 2-2 draw with AS Pueu, another top half of the table side, has shown the side has promise.
Meanwhile the U-15 girls were unfortunately eliminated from their cup competition in the first round after a 6-0 defeat to AS Tapuhute.
Additional reporting courtesy of La Dépêche de Tahiti