Posted: 12/19/2008


      A story in today was an interesting read.  Tahiti in French Polynesia had become the first South Pacific island federation to win an OCEANIA , competition and will advance to the FIFA World Cup U 20s in Egypt next year in the Land of the Pharoes.

     The coach of the team is 3rd string goalkeeper for FIFA World Cup Winners France in 1998. Lionel  Charbonnier, who played at Auxerre, Rangers and FC Sion, and finds himself in the colonies and a hero.  One of the secrets of their success has been playing in the national Tahitian League.  They came from behind to beat favourites New Zealand 2-1 at Stade Paea after the All-Whites were reduced to 10 men just before half time, with goals from Garry Rochelle and Ariihau Teriitau. In their next match they beat 9 man Fiji 2-0, with goals from Alvin Tehau and Hiva Kamoise at Stade Mahiina  while New Zealand and New Caledonia battled to a 2-2 tie.

     Many years ago I flew to Tahiti and landed in Faaa, the island airport ,and had a garland of shells put around my neck as I arrived at the terminal. I stayed at a small  hotel in a thatched roof cottage over the water, on the road to Papeete the capital. I decided not to go for a swim in the pool due to the baby sharks and sting rays already enjoying a swim.  I had an appointment with the then President of the Tahitian F.A., Napoleon Spitz at his office at the Town Hall, since he was also Mayor of Papeete. He was very tall, and dressed in national costume, a long dress and large 'jesus boots' -leather sandals, and had a flower in his hair. Can you imagine the sight and compare it with your F.A. President!!

      He drove me to a match in the Velodrome in town, where a local league soccer match was going on inside the cycling track, and then to the national stadium, with the mountains behind in an idyllic setting. I did go for a swim the next day, after taking my hired car to the side of the island which had a black sand beach, while the other side was white sand, and where The Bounty had landed.

      In 1789 Captain William Bligh and his ship The Bounty arrived at the island to collect breadfruit and transport them to the West Indies, to be planted and used as cheap food for slaves. Fletcher Christian and the mutineers flung the breadfruit into the sea and set Bligh and 18 men still loyal to him, in a small boat that he managed to navigate to safety at Timor in the Dutch East Indies, an incredible 47 day journey of 6,710 km with only a sextant and pocket watch, with no charts or compass, and all 19 survived. 

     These modern Tahitians will get to Egypt by jet aircraft. The tournament is from September 25th-October 16th, 2009.