Lulu knocks on door to the Coupe de France

The President of Vanuatu Football Federation Johnny Tinsley Lulu will take up his long time wish for Vanuatu's re-entry to the Coupe de France tournament directly with the Ministry of Sports in Paris when he goes to France next week.

Mr. Tinsley Lulu has left on Wednesday for an Oceania Football Confederation executive meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, where he is expected to team up with former Tahitian skipper and Minister of Youth and Sport Renald Temari for FIFA business trips to Zurich at the weekend. Mr. Lulu will be attending the FIFA Referee Committee meeting on 16 February, while Mr. Temari is to attend the Goal Bureau meeting on 17 February.

Speaking at a press conference at the VFF Haus in Port Vila Tuesday 10 February, Mr. Lulu announced his trip to Paris with Mr. Temari, where they are expected to have dinner with the President of the French Football Federation Claude Simonet, and the secretary to the ministry of sport . The appointment is being arranged by Tahiti's Minister Temari, but they are expected to discuss Vanuatu's re-entry to the Coupe de France
tournament.

"We (then New Hebrides) used to compete in the play offs for the Coupe de France with Tahiti and New Caledonia, but after independence in 1980, Vanuatu no longer eligible for the tournament.

"However, it has been a common wish for myself, the late President of Tahiti Football Federation Napoleon Spits and the Head of New Caledonia Football Mr. Wamijo for Vanuatu to re-enter the tournament. And recently I have had meetings with the Tahitian Minister for Youth and Sport Mr. Renald Temari, he too wants Vanuatu to come back to the tournament. The President of French Football Federation Mr. Simonet has told me he has no problem with the idea, but that it is a issue for the government. So hopefully our
meeting in Paris would produce something to complement our wish and our re-entry to the Coupe de France", Mr. Lulu said.

Mr. Lulu himself competed in five play offs for the Coupe de France with clubs from Tahiti and New
Caledonia under the then Inter FC.

The Vice President of VFF Mr. Jacques Tronquet who
also played with Mr. Lulu in two play offs, sees the re-entry to the Coupe de France as very important in the development of football in Vanuatu. Tupuji Imere FC and Ifira Black Birds also competed in the play offs.

"This will give another incentive for football players in the provincial leagues to improve on their programs in order to be able to compete with teams in Port Vila and Luganville. It will give a boost to the moral and overal development of football in the country", he commented.

Meanwhile VFF Technical Director and National Coach Carlos Buzzetti says the re-entry of Vanuatu to the Coupe de France will create another important opportunity for the local clubs as well as the players.

"That would be a fantastic opportunity for the local clubs and the players we have here, because it will mean another fantastic international competition for them, and an opening to Europe. We have not been exposing our players in Europe, but if a club from here qualifies and goes to France, then it will be a great opportunity to expose them in Europe", Carlos says.

The backing of Vanuatu by Tahiti and New Caledonia is vitally important in that normally Vanuatu being a sovereign state, is not elegible for the coupe de france which is a tournament for France and French territories only. Monaco is the only non French territory that competes in the tournament.
However, given the fact that Vanuatu was a former
French colony, and currently an active member of
l'Association Internationale de la Francophonie, and especially when Vanuatu Football has roots in the French style of game, there could be a better chance that the once Tahiti/New Caledonia/Vanuatu Coupe de France play off be restored. The connection is very much alive between the three in regional football meetings. But the one vital thing that lies in the hearts of many soccer lovers in the three known French territories in Oceania, is the wish to revive their football connection. And the Coupe de France play off
between them would not only revive that connection, but would prompt a tougher competition between them, and thus producing strong teams to compete with other international clubs.


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