The Tiki Toa hit new heights in 2013 when they outperformed some of the world’s best teams to take fourth place in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
Not only did the side impress the beach soccer community with their on-field talent, but their exploits on the world stage have also seen them promoted to celebrity status in their home country.
“We thought about the before and during the Beach Soccer World Cup, but we never really thought about what would happen after,” player and former coach Teva Zaveroni says.
And while for many being followed be tv cameras, photographers and journalists might change your outlook on life, for this team it is business as usual.
“We manage as we know how, we improvise and we adapt,” Zaveroni says.
“We continue to lead simple lives and we never forget where we came from. To keep our head on our shoulders is the most important.”
The side is now looking ahead to 2015, the OFC Beach Soccer championship and qualification for the 2015 edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Portugal.
Zaveroni says while the team is competing at the highest possible level a lot of work still has to be done if they want to continue building on their success.
“We know that we are not professionals but remain amateurs. We need to change things, put in statutes for high level sport on the territory so that we can continue to keep up with the best teams in the world,” he says.
Not content to wait for that support to fall into their laps, the Tiki Toa are pushing forward with their campaign to reach Portugal 2015.
Raimana Li Fung Kuee was one of the standout players for Tahiti with consistently high performances earning him the Beach Soccer World Cup’s Bronze Ball for third best player of the tournament.
Li Fung Kuee says while the side is still relishing their experience, they are keen to get the next stage underway.
“The 2013 adventure has ended but the journey to the World Cup in 2015 is just beginning,” Li Fung Kuee says.
“For 2014 we will continue training in preparation for the qualifiers of the Oceania region to win our ticket for Porto and the Beach Soccer World Cup which will be held in Portugal in 2015.
“So it’s another big year and we are once again planning to prepare in Switzerland. It will mean more sacrifices but that’s what we have to do to get to a high level.”