Ferns show support to up-and-coming teenage players at OFC tournament

posted in: Football Ferns, News, OFC news

Football Ferns Grace Jale and Mackenzie Barry are in Fiji to help encourage the best up-and-coming U-15 footballers from eight Oceania nations at a week-long development tournament.

Jale and Barry, and retired New Zealand international Kirsty Yallop, are tournament ambassadors for the OFC U-15 Girls Development Tournament which runs till May 14, 2024.

Main photo: Grace Jale … one of three ambassadors at the OFC tournament. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Jale (Perth Glory) and Barry (Wellington Phoenix) have recently concluded their women’s A-League seasons.

Yallop, who has 104 caps for the Football Ferns and was part of FIFA’s technical advisory group for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will run a player education workshop at the tournament, drawing on insights from her extensive international and professional experience.

The tournament is underway in Fiji. Photo credit: OFC Media.

Fiji, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga will take part.

Now in its second edition, the OFC U-15 Development Tournament, with support from UEFA, alternates annually between boys and girls. It is designed to provide young footballers with experience of an international tournament format.

“We are very excited to be offering this tournament for young players across the region,” said Owain Prosser, OFC head of high performance and education.

Owain Prosser.

Giving these young players the opportunity to travel overseas for the first time before having the pressure of World Cup qualification on the line helps to level the playing field, Prosser explained.

“For many, this may be the first time they have left their country, played abroad with a team and represented their country.

“This tournament provides many opportunities for development as a person and a footballer, in a safe environment with an emphasis on enjoyment. For some, it may just provide a positive life experience to remember. For others, it will also help to prepare them for future performance at the highest level,” Prosser said.

The tournament also supports OFC’s strategic goal to increase and improve OFC representation and performance in international competitions.

To that end, the tournament provides delivery and reflection opportunities in an international environment for developing coaches and young referees.

The tournament could not happen without the support of UEFA, Prosser said.

“Thank you to UEFA for their support and guidance to deliver this event. Not only will this help the development of all involved this year but it will also inspire others to reach their full potential to take part in future editions.”

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