Young men and women have travelled from across the region for four days of action on the court in OFC’s inaugural Youth Futsal Tournament, kicking off at Bruce Pulman Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on Wednesday morning.
The women’s competition will see several familiar faces, with multi-talented players from Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand making their second or third appearances at an OFC event this year after representing their nations at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship and OFC U-19 Women’s Championship.
The three contending nations will also be joined by the Auckland Football Federation U-18 girl’s futsal team, who were invited by OFC to participate in the women’s competition and play the three national teams on their bye rounds.
The men’s competition will showcase futsal prodigies from Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, New Caledonia and American Samoa who have been selected to represent their nations after impressive performances in domestic youth tournaments or senior national leagues.
All seven nations will be making their debut in regional age-group futsal and will be eager to display the development and strength of their domestic game.
The winners of the men’s and women’s tournaments – with the exception of New Caledonia who are not an Olympic nation – will qualify for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
The two qualifying teams cannot be from the same Member Association so where a country has entered both the men’s and women’s events, the Member Association must nominate their preferred qualification team.
For Vanuatu this will be the very first time ever a Youth Futsal team has taken part in a regional tournament.
“This is the first ever youth competition and we have been doing a lot of youth futsal programmes so it is good to have a competition for them. We are really looking forward to it. Our objective to see how our youth team can compete in the competition and keep developing the team for future youth and senior competitions,” Vanuatu Coach, Richard Lehi said.
Vanuatu Team Contingent: 1. Nickson TAVUI (GK), 2. Kerol ALEX, 3. Cafu KALSONG, 4. Moise NALE, 5. Alex WILKINS, 6. Isack NUMAHAN, 7. Rhydley NAPAU, 8. Jayson BULE, 9. Samos NALE, 10. Chima CHILLIA.
Coach: Richard LEHI (VAN)