Vanuatu’s female footballers rejoice in milestone moment

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Australia and New Zealand - the first in the Southern Hemisphere - offers a unique opportunity to expedite growth in women’s football in the region.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and its member associations are grasping that opportunity with both hands to ensure a strong platform is built for future growth.

The latest country to reach a new milestone is Vanuatu, with the Melanesian nation this week completing the first edition of a national women’s competition. The geographical spread of nation’s archipelago - as is often the case in the Pacific - means organising such an event is no easy feat.

Despite being spread across 12,000 square kilometres, Vanuatu’s 14 main islands were all represented in the two-week tournament, via the eight Vanuatu Football Federation [VFF] regions in the inaugural edition of the VFF Women’s Champions League.

It is the same format as the men’s edition, which has been running for some time and includes players from the entire archipelago.

The prohibitive costs of travel saw all teams travel up to 12 hours by boat, before ultimately reaching the Luganville Soccer City stadium on the largest island of Espiritu Santo. In the end, it was with the visiting Galaxy FC from capital Port Vila, who were crowned champions after a narrow 1-0 win over Huka 21 FC in the final.

Most notable, however, was the sheer milestone of a truly national competition being conducted. The new tournament allows an opportunity to help assess the level of local competition within the federation and also preparedness towards international competitions. The next milestone for Vanuatu is next year’s 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

The tournament follows this year’s launch of OFC’s comprehensive Women’s Football Strategy, the appointment of Women’s Football Development Officers across the continent and the inaugural launch of other women’s national leagues in neighbouring nations such as Solomon Islands.

“It is fantastic to see Vanuatu launch their inaugural VFF Women’s Champions League,” Emma Evans, OFC Women’s Football Development Officer, told “This league brings new and exciting opportunities for female players across Vanuatu, where the best players across the country can compete at the highest level more frequently than ever before.

“For these players, having regular games to play in is key in their technical development and is a much-needed step for progressing the women’s game in Vanuatu. With strong development programmes in place for their youth and a pinnacle league running for senior women, I am looking forward to seeing how this helps the nation build towards their ultimate goal of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2027.”