The Pacific region’s answer to the Commonwealth Games, the XVII Pacific Games, gets underway today in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
While the multi-sport event for Pacific nations, territories and dependencies has been running since 1963, women’s football was only introduced for the first time in 2003.
Papua New Guinea earned themselves the Queens of the Pacific moniker after earning gold in the previous five editions where women’s football has featured.
However, with increased investment in the women’s game across the region, the gap is closing. The 2019 edition of this event saw fierce competition for the title, with Samoa making their first final before going down to Papua New Guinea.
Meanwhile the 2022 OFC Women’s Nations Cup final between Papua New Guinea and Fiji showed the Kulas mean business when it comes to challenging Papua New Guinea’s stranglehold on the coveted Pacific Games title.
The competition kicks off this afternoon at the SIFF Academy in Honiara with Group A action between the Cook Islands and New Caledonia, followed by Papua New Guinea and American Samoa.
In Group B are Tahiti, Samoa and Tonga while Group C features hosts Solomon Islands alongside Vanuatu and Fiji.
After earning a historic third place finish in the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in 2022, Solomon Islands are hoping strong preparations will combine with home advantage to secure further history for the women’s side.
Coach Batram Suri said: “Looking at the pool matches it will not be easy. We play Vanuatu on Saturday and our second game on the 24th is against Fiji, so it won’t be easy.
“We will try our best to not participate, but to compete during these Pacific Games and show our people that the team has improved”.
Solomon Islands have been preparing for this competition since March with a number of mini-camps held throughout the year before the side moved into camp full-time ahead of the games.