The Tahiti Soccer Team, Made Up of Truck Drivers and School Teachers, Is Playing in the Confederations Cup (Video)
Tahiti is an island nation of just 178,000 inhabitants, and it is obviously known more for its tropical beaches and gorgeous ocean vistas than its ability to field a competitive international soccer team. Oh sure, there is a Tahitian National Team, but there is just one professional player on it. The rest all make livings as truck drivers, teachers, delivery boys, accountants, and the like.
Nevertheless, right now, you can indeed find that very Tahitian National Soccer Team in Brazil playing against some of the world’s soccer superpowers.
How did this come to be? Well, the year before every FIFA World Cup, the WC host nation holds a tune-up event called the Confederations Cup. What makes this event unique is that, unlike the World Cup, each of FIFA’s six continental soccer confederations—AFC, CAF, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, OFC, and UEFA—is guaranteed at least one spot.
Tahiti, of course, belongs to the Oceania Football Confederation, or OFC. We rarely see teams from this confederation in the World Cup because this is the only region that does not get at least three teams. The only way countries like New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, or Tahiti could ever make the World Cup is by winning a playoff against a team from the Asian Football Confederation.
But this isn’t 2014. It’s 2013. And while it’s yet to be seen whether an Oceania team is able to qualify for the World Cup, the Tahitians—with their truck drivers and delivery boys and one professional soccer player—are in the 2013 Confederations Cup against Spain, Brazil, Italy, Uruguay, Japan, Mexico, and Nigeria.
So how are they doing? Well, Tahiti finds themselves in Group B with Uruguay, Nigeria, and Spain. They played their first game yesterday against Nigeria and, as you would expect, it was a rout. The 2013 African Cup of Nations Champions torched the Pacific Islanders for six goals, which only makes you wonder what on earth is going to happen when Tahiti takes on the reigning World Cup and Euro Cup champions from Spain this Thursday.
However, it was not all doom and gloom for the Tahitians. They played with spirit and pride and, most importantly, they actually scored a goal.
Take a look:
Simply scoring one goal in a major tournament wouldn’t be a huge deal for most nations, but for Tahiti it is. You can bet people back home were jumping up and down on their couches when they saw that. And why not? The goal scorer wasn’t even Marama Vahirua, the lone Tahitian pro. It was a kid named Jonathan Tehau.
You know he’ll be talking about this one for the rest of his life.
Hat Tip – [CNN]