The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Auckland tomorrow when co-hosts New Zealand face Norway.
It is the biggest football tournament ever to be hosted in the Oceania region with 32 teams from around the world.
New Zealand is the sole Oceania representative with Papua New Guinea failing in their playoff match early this year. But there is still a Pacific influence in some nations including players with links to Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
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One of those is 20-year-old Australian Mary Fowler, who’s father is from the Republic of Ireland and her mother Nido is from Papua New Guinea.
Football Ferns Grace Jale and Malia Steinmetz also have parents from the Pacific – Jale’s father is Fijian, Steinmetz’s mother hailing from Samoa,
“Trying to connect with my identity and my Samoan roots has been really important, so I think going out there and knowing who I am and having them (my family) being part of me is something I’m really proud of,” Steinmetz told OFC Media.
She is also aware of the positive influence having the World Cup in the Oceania region can be in encouraging kids across the Pacific to get involved.
“I think it’s everything, just to see it, having it on our front doorstep. It’s something I personally had with the U-17 World Cup being here, it influenced me to keep playing, so I know it’s going to reach out across New Zealand and the Pacific.”
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ. An abridged version of a story that first appeared on the Oceania Football Confederations website.