FIFA delighted with first-ever women’s Champions League

Individual winners, from left, Edsy Matao (AS Academy Féminine), Marie Kaipu (Hekari United), and Sylvester Maenu’u (Koloale FC) Photo: OFC Media via Phototek

Individual winners, from left, Edsy Matao (AS Academy Féminine), Marie Kaipu (Hekari United), and Sylvester Maenu’u (Koloale FC) Photo: OFC Media via Phototek

Football’s world governing body FIFA has given the thumbs up to the inaugural Oceania Women’s Champions League held in Papua New Guinea.

FIFA’s Women’s Football Competitions Manager Gianluca Famigli praised the event in an interview with OFC Media after the event.

“The OFC Women’s Champions League has clearly demonstrated that the Pacific region has great potential. The players are talented, and each team is clearly trying to professionalise themselves with their roles, with the coaching staff and the coaching practice,” Famigli said.

He attended two match days at the event and said FIFA is interested to find out what is happening in the region.

“The experience of attending the OFC Women’s Champions League has been amazing. For us (FIFA) it’s very important to learn and get an understanding as much as possible on the ground because that’s the only way we can understand what football is about in the Pacific region.”

Six teams were entered but New Zealand’s representatives Eastern Suburbs withdrew late on.

Feminine wins title

AS Academy Féminine of New Caledonia took out the first title after they came from behind to beat Solomon Islands’ Koloale FC 4-1 in their final game.

The New Caledonian side remained the only undefeated team at the event.

Koloale FC captain Ileen Pegi had earlier set the game alight late in the first half with a goal as they led 1-0.

But Feminine responded with goals to Christelle Wahnawe, Alice Wenessia, who scored twice and Louise Luepak.

Local club Hekari United finished second after they accounted for Labasa from Fiji 2-0 in the final game of the event.

Marie Kaipu, later named as the Golden Boot award winner with nine goals at the tournament, scored a double in the first half.

Hekari United ended the tournament having scored 17 goals and conceded just two and will lament their opening day defeat to AS Academy Féminine which proved the difference between winning the title and finishing second.

One of the stars of the tournament was 13-year-old Florencina Kalifa of Kiwi FC who was the youngest player at the tournament and who became one of the youngest scorers in a senior international football tournament.

Award winners

OFC also awarded players at the end of the tournament.

Edsy Matao of AS Academy Féminine won the ‘The Golden Ball: Player of the Tournament’ title.

OFC said she commanded a real presence and led her team by example as a steady defender.

‘The Golden Boot: Top goalscorer’ was given to Hekari United’s Marie Kaipu, who scored nine goals, including the highest in a single match, her four goals against Kiwi FC of Samoa.

Koloale FC stopper Sylvester Maenu’u won the ‘The Golden Glove: Best Goalkeeper’ award while Hekari United won the ‘Fair Play Team of the Tournament’.