For the past two months Tuvalu's national football team
have been on a tour around the Netherlands playing a variety of lower-league
Dutch club sides. In doing so they became only the third Oceanian team to
visit Europe, after New Zealand and Tonga.
|Experience..the tour will prove valuable|
For Tuvalu to even be in the
Netherlands is a major achievement. The island nation has only one football
pitch, and partly for this reason, they have never played a home match.
That the tour is even happening is largely thanks to one man
– Dutchman Paul Driessen. Paul is the driving force behind the Stichting Dutch
Support Tuvalu (SDST), an organisation dedicated to developing football in
Tuvalu and helping the Pacific country reach its target of FIFA membership.
Although Tuvalu attained independence in 1978 and has since frequently competed
in the South Pacific Games, attempts to join FIFA have ran into difficulties.
The governing body has repeatedly denied Tuvalu membership, citing a lack of
infrastructure in Tuvalu (a regulation which, it must be assumed, other Pacific
FIFA members are exempt from).
The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have
proved less than helpful in their own right – Tuvalu remains only an associate
member of the organisation, with OFC showing reluctance to provide funding and
|Hope...Tuvalu wait for FIFA membership|
From a footballing perspective, the tour itself hasn't gone
quite how the Tuvaluans would have liked. After opening with a 3-2 defeat
against VV Nieuweschoot, they went down 10-1 to VV Wilhelmus in their second
game. It took seven attempts for them to secure a victory, which came against
the A1 (youth) team of VV Bredenrodes. Tuvalu went into a 3-0 lead by
half-time, and eventually won the game 5-3.
They put in some good performances
since and scored some impressive victories, not least a 9-1 win over RKVV
Tongelre in one of their recent games. One of the most consistent performers
for Tuvalu through the tournament has been striker Alopua Petoa, who has
contributed with a number of goals, although unfortunately full statistics are
Tuvalu have two games left in the Netherlands, which take
place against VV Elsendorp on 26 October followed by RKVV Oerle on the 31st.
The tour will have proved a great learning
experience for the Tuvalu footballers and served to raise awareness of their
circumstances - they’re expected to formally apply for FIFA membership in the
This article was written by Michael Peters. If you’d like
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