Tahiti and Tehau Remind Football of Friendship, Community
By Alex Fairchild
On Sunday at 5 pm on the United States of America's eastern seaboard, the group stage of the Confederations Cup will have come to a close.
While Spain are cranking out victory against Nigeria, Uruguay will look to secure their spot in the next round by thumping Tahiti. Just as fast as they came into relevance in the footballing world, they will be gone. The Polynesian minnows will bow out with their pride still in tact, having given Brazil and the rest of the world something to laugh and cry about.
Tahiti's nerves got the best of them against Nigeria. The majority of the African side's goals came from reckless defending and had the plankton been able to shore up their defending, they could have held their opposition to a respectable scoreline. Their errors against Spain were certainly less blatant, but they only mustered one shot on goal, which could easily have come all the way from their island nation.
They are the underdogs and they know it. Rarely will a team accept defeat before a match, or even before a tournament begins. However, those men who come from a place where the letter "B" and its corresponding sound is nonexistent, represent the 5 year olds on the pitches this Saturday and the 40 somethings on Sunday. With only one professional in the squad, this team are a bunch of amateurs, just like ourselves.
When the average footballer sets out to take on an opponent they are with their friends. Soccer dictates the social lives of many high schoolers and college players. It is something that can be discussed for days upon days, even with complete strangers. That is what occurs on sites like Football.com. The staff write articles, the readers digest them, and comment below. It is a conversation. It is why the readers keep coming back and the contributors type away.
Only a select few have had or will have the opportunity to play on a major stage against the likes of Torres, Villa, and Silva. The fact that Jonathan Tehau is one of those who has faced those beasts is something of which FIFA should be proud. Even though they did not score against the World and European Champions, they still put one away at the Confederations Cup. The goal came from a textbook set and it will always be remembered. It was a beautiful goal because it was scored by a member of a family. Some teams may say they are fully together, but few have actually used a term to show that it is true. After matches, the word "teammates" is used over and over again by players.
After Jonathan Tehau scored against Nigeria, his post game reaction was a bit different than the rest. It may sound less formal or less mature than the tailored response of professionals it stands out. "I just celebrated the goal with my friends," said Tehau. "With my friends." Tehau and is compatriots are in Brazil enjoying themselves and their football. They are truly a family. They are friends.
Tahiti are all of us.