Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea did it in 2021, and now New Caledonia have joined them in launching a national women’s competition of their own, the Championnat Filles NC.
The Fédération Calédonienne de Football’s (FCF) new league will be 11-a-side and will feature ten teams playing a total of 45 matches across the length of the competition.
Head of Women’s Football Development at FCF, Charlotte Pellitier, said a large part of the development objectives for the federation going forward is to offer football competition.
“The women’s football project is to put in place federal competition for senior women. The objective is to promote and develop women’s football, hence the importance of this project as it will be a showcase for the football of our women,” Pellitier explained.
“The idea of the federation is to strengthen skills by structuring and training all the relevant stakeholders; that being coaches, the governors and administrators, the referees and so on.”
The opening day of the competition was held on Saturday 19 March with matches in Lifou, Koné, Poindimié, Canala and Païta.
AS Academy Féminine (ASAF) has been building a strong base since it was founded by coach, Coralie Bretegnier and New Caledonia’s leading international goalscorer Christelle Wahnawé.
The side, undefeated in four years, opened their campaign in the new competition with a 5-0 victory over Ne Drehu even without their central defender and captain Edsy Matao leading the line and just one substitute on the bench.
“My girls are more or less on form and because of that we were able to score the last goals,” Bretegnier said of her charges, a sentiment shared by her opposing coach, Pierrick Waheo.
“In the second half, what made the difference was physically, we weren’t there. That allowed ASAF to find the channels and score,” the Ne Drehu coach said.
“In the first half, our goal was to wait for them with a deep block, then quickly counter-attack.”
While the plan worked to a degree, with Ne Drehu trailing just 1-0 going into the break following a Jackie Pahoa ‘special’, from 35 metres out in just the second minute.
After the break the experienced Wahnawé showed she hasn’t lost her touch, scoring a hat trick to go along with Pahoa’s and Alice Wenessia’s goals to secure the 5-0 victory.
The other opening day matches saw the FCF Académie win 9-0 over Drehu AC, AS Baco beat Hienghène 7-2 and Boulouparis secured a 4-0 victory over Canala. Ponérihouen and Wetr drew 2-2.
In addition to the new league, FCF will also be introducing a Cup competition with 6 to 24 teams expected to participate in what has been proposed as a ‘Champions League’ type competition with a group phase, in order to offer between eight and 20 matches.
A senior women’s futsal cup is also being organised with between 8 and 16 teams expected to sign-up to participate.