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Coach Boone (Remember the Titans): [to his players] Tonight we've got Hayfield. Like all the other schools in this conference, they are all white. They don't have to worry about race. We do. Let me tell you something: you don't let anyone come between us. Nothing tears us apart. IN GREEK MYTHOLOGY, THE TITANS WERE GREATER EVEN THAN THE GODS. THEY RULED THEIR UNIVERSE WITH ABSOLUTE POWER. WELL THAT FOOTBALL FIELD OUT THERE, THAT'S OUR UNIVERSE. LET'S RULE IT LIKE TITANS. (Caps Mine)


Tahiti's national football team, also known as Toa Aito (Iron Warriors), might have been more porous than hard but there are stories that sometimes get lost.

Representing the Pacific nation of French Polynesia, with a population of only 267,000 (January 2010 estimate), and an area of 4,167 square kilometers, the Iron Warriors still topped the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), comprising 11 nations as follows: American Samoa , Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati , New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti (French Polynesia) , Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Tahiti has competed in the OFC since 1990.

Traditionally one of the stronger footballing nations of the Pacific Islands, with the second best record with five football victories. They were runners-up in the first three installments of the Nations Cup (1973, 1980, and 1996). The Iron Warriors qualified for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. This success was followed up with the title of 2012 OFC Nations Cup, becoming the first team other than Australia and New Zealand to win the competition.

2013 FIFA Confederations Cup

The squad:

GK: Mickaƫl Roche, Gilbert Meriel, and Xavier Samin

DF: Teheivarii Ludivion, Tamatoa Wagemann, Stephane Faatiarau, Nicholas Vallar (Captain), Edson Lemaire, Rainui Aroita, Vincent Simon, and Yannick Vero

MF: Alvin Tehau, Henri Caroine, Heimano Bourebare, Stanley Atani, Lorenzo Tehau, Ricky Aitamai, Jonathan Tehau, and Yohann Tihoni

FW: Marama Vahirua, Teaonui Tehau, Steevy Chong Hue, and Samuel Hnanyine

The team of journeyman footballers, all play domestically bar Marama Vahirua, a 33-year-old forward with Nancy in France. The team ranges in age from 18 to 35 years, averaging at 25.5 years.

The Tribute

Having shipped in 24 goals in this year’s Confederations Cup, it is hard at face value to find positives, yet there are pluses from the team’s campaign.

To start with, Tahiti are in this tournament, having qualified by topping ten regional rivals. That makes their participation legit. A nation of 267,000 gets to play rivals that boast in excess of 3 million (Uruguay) and 120 million (Nigeria).

Add to that 22 of 23 Tahiti players plying their trade at home, in contrast with teams that either boast competitive domestic leagues and national players based in organized leagues abroad.

In the words of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Olympic Movement: “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

The Baron’s romanticism was strongly influenced by the saying mens sana in corpore sano, a sound mind in a sound body. Is that not the essence of competition and participation? A winner has to be found and an opponent respects his vanquisher.

The pride of Tahiti might have left Brazil having been on the wrong end of results, but they remain giants and pioneers from their region. The Iron Warriors also provide hope for nations like Kenya who are yet to taste international football success. It can be done. For that they deserve respect.

My lasting impression of Tahiti will be their pre-match handing out of necklaces to opponents and unbridled joy at having scored against Nigeria. The thrill of winning and lifting trophies might cast a large shadow over stories like Tahiti but forgotten the Warriors should not be.

Images used with permission.



Is it time Kenya developed a distinct playing kit for all its teams?

Upon observation, all famed soccer giants the world over, the likes of Cameroon, Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, England, France and Italy all have distinct uniforms that instantly mark them out for recognition.

It also follows that all the mentioned teams have distinct names that further reinforce the identity – the Indomitable Lions, Super Eagles, the Selecao, Albiceste, La Furia Roja, Three Lions, Les Bleus and Azurri respectively.

A question to be posed is: Does possessing a distinct kit create a unique identity? Does it help create a unified sense of purpose for the team? Is there a unique playing mentality that follows having a distinct shirt to play and fight for?

What is the Harambee Stars playing uniform? Is it the Stoke City (or Atletico Madrid)-like white shirts featuring vertical red stripes, or is it the all-white playing kit recently designed by kit-maker Adidas?

Cameroon, Mali and Nigeria are a few countries whose playing kits are modeled on their national flags. Can't this country borrow from the Kenyan flag too?

A few of the country's kits are shown below. They are drawn from our national football team Harambee Stars, our Rugby Sevens team and the now famous athletics kit.

It might be an idea worth considering. As we aspire to breathe the rarefied air of the soccer gods, we need an identity, a presence, and a visually recognizable point of reference. We need new ideas, especially in the area of branding. It is the only way I see of learning how to fight for the shirt and developing pride in wearing of the same.

Images used with permission.

Images used courtesy of, and