13 Sep 2023

Women's World Cup rubbing off as Oceania sides prepare for U-16 cup

9:27 am on 13 September 2023
Vanuatu players at the training ground

Vanuatu players at the training ground Photo: Ryan Temu FTF via OFC Media

The Oceania U-16s women's Championship kicks off this week, with players taking inspiration from the FIFA Women's World Cup just held in New Zealand and Australia.

Vanuatu was the first team to arrive in Papeete for the tournament which starts off with the game between Tonga and Solomon Islands on Wednesday local time. Hosts Tahiti then play New Caledonia in the evening.

Nesta Moli's Vanuatu side arrived on Friday and spent the past few days getting used to the surroundings as they prepare for their Group B fixtures against Fiji, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands.

Vanuatu kick off their campaign against Fiji on Thursday.

"We feel very happy to be here and it was an opportunity for us to arrive early," said Moli.

"We have had four months to prepare for the tournament and for most of the girls it is the first time to participate in a tournament like this. It's a real privilege for us to be here and take part especially playing a 90-minute game." Moli said.

Moli said being able to watch the best players in the world at the Women's World Cup so close to home was inspiring for her players.

"Yes, most of us watched the World Cup and we were really inspired by Australia. To watch Australia and how they play makes us really feel comfortable and have confidence in ourselves that we can also play football."

For goalkeeper Daniella Harry, the opportunity to represent her country is a dream come true.

"I'm very excited because it's like all the girls really appreciate the position that we have reached. It's the first time for us in Tahiti and we are feeling confident." Harry said.

As goalkeeper, she understands the importance of her role and is relishing the opportunity to help the team.

"Yes, I would love to do that, I love playing goalkeeper and really appreciate my position in the team."

Kiwis on way to Paris

New Zealand booked its spot in the football competition of the 2024 Summer Olympics in France after thrashing Fiji 9-0 in the OFC Men's Olympic Qualifier final in Auckland on Saturday.

The Oly Whites scored twice in the first six minutes and led 5-0 at half-time.

Riley Bidois scored five of the nine goals.