Vanuatu has one of the most advanced technical programmes in Oceania, particularly at youth level. The Melanesian nation of around 220,000 inhabitants was chosen as one of six countries globally for a FIFA pilot project whereby players are identified at a young age and selected to train and stay full-time at the national academy. As part of that two-year programme for players aged 15-17, consideration is given to continuing school or vocational education. The main objective, however, is to facilitate national team players’ entry into professional football. These activities will make full use of the infrastructure of the technical centre in Teouma, Port Vila, built with funding from the FIFA Goal Programme. The success of the project, which started in 2008, led to Vanuatu being nominated to represent Oceania at the first ever Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
Under the leadership of President Lambert Maltock, Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) has worked hard to establish the academy and national headquarters in Teouma, as well as the decentralisation of football activities which led to the establishment of the regional technical centre in Luganville, Santo. VFF has also focused on developing beach soccer and futsal which has resulted in strong performances at OFC tournaments. As a football-devoted nation, it would only be a matter of time before Vanuatu qualified for a FIFA event, after close shaves at the OFC U-17 Men’s Championship, U-20 Men’s Championship, and on the club scene when Amicale finished runners-up at the OFC Champions League in 2014.
In 2016 the nation finally achieved that long-awaited dream when the U-20 side finished runners-up to New Zealand at the OFC U-20 Championship on home soil, securing tickets to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017.
This nation is promising big things and we are looking forward to being involved in the development of Vanuatu Football.