The small Pacific Ocean based archipelago of Tahiti made their first appearance in an event of considerable scale, on Monday, which ended up in a defeat to the Nigerians.
But all throughout the game, there were moments for us to enjoy as fans. The cheering of crowd to every time they touched the ball and moved it up front, to all the tackles that were successful and most of all – to Jonathan Tehau’s 54th-minute header that saw the back of the net.
Majority of the fans except for a few Tahitians do not have any high hopes, in terms of achieving a lot at the international stage, from the team that is ranked 138th in the world. But one thing is certain, the feel good aspect to watching a truly footballing minnow compete among the big boys is a delight.
Even more is the fact that these part timers brought out a few tears and reminded us of what it really means to enjoy the sport.
As Jonathan Tehau who had two goals (including an own goal) on the night explained his emotions:
“It’s just huge. Already, coming here to Brazil, and then scoring the goal, I’m very happy for me, for my family, my friends and my teammates.”
The experienced Marama Vahirua had the following to say:
“For us, we’ve won,” he said. “Nobody saw us scoring a goal; nobody but us. From the start, I told my teammates to believe in ourselves.
And this came from the manager – Eddy Etaeta:
“I looked at the crowd and said: ‘Wow, Belo Horizonte is with us’,” he said.
“I’d like to thank all the people who helped us, all the supporters who were there at the training. We’re not used to being supported but today, I think we managed to conquer the hearts of the Brazilians.”
Furthermore, the goal celebration, which made it seem like they had won the World Cup, involving the synchronized display of the Va’a (Tahitian national sport of outrigger canoeing) by the members is something innovative that they should be credited for.