Inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League draws praise from FIFA

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The inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League tournament in Papua New Guinea has received glowing praise from a key figure involved in women’s football at world governing body FIFA.

FIFA’s Women’s Football Competitions Manager Gianluca Famigli travelled to Port Moresby from Zurich and returns home full of optimism about the potential for women’s football in Oceania.

“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.

New Caledonia’s AS Academy Féminine won the 2023 tournament which ran from June 1-10, winning all four of their games.

Main photo: The champion AS Academy Féminine squad raise the trophy at the end-of-tournament prizegiving ceremony. Photo: OFC / Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Famigli arrived for the second week of the five-club tournament, taking in two match days, and was wowed by events on and off the pitch.

“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.”

FIFA contributed financially to the tournament and Famigli felt the investment had paid dividends.

“FIFA really works hard to create new competitions and what OFC is doing is creating a new competition, a new platform for the players to showcase their talents and FIFA has invested in this tournament and was happy to support OFC in the job it is doing through the FIFA Women’s Football Competitions Fund for the Confederations,” Famigli said.

The two-week tournament was played as a round-robin competition after the withdrawal of New Zealand’s entry, Eastern Suburbs.

READ MORE: Eastern Suburbs pull out of inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League >>>>

After their fourth win clinched the title, AS Academy Féminine’s Player of the Match Alice Wenessia was interviewed pitchside:

Tournament awards

The tournament’s Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament went to AS Academy Féminine defender Edsy Matao.

Golden Boot winner was Hekari United’s Marie Kaipu who scored nine goals in four games, including four against Kiwi FC (Samoa).

The Golden Glove award for Best Goalkeeper was Koloale FC’s Sylvester Maenu’u.

Tournament runners-up Hekari United (PNG) won the tournament’s Fair Play Award, going through their four games without a yellow card.

Match highlights

Here are highlights from AS Academy Féminine’s 4-1 win against Koloale FC (Solomon Islands), the win that took the champions trophy back to New Caledonia:

The establishment of the OFC Women’s Champions League is expected to provide a pathway for an OFC club to represent the region at a FIFA Women’s Club World Cup in 2025.

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