The first focus island for Uncharted Football is Niue, which we will visit in early October.
Niue is in the South Pacific and is situated around 2400km North East of New Zealand. There are only two flights each week between Auckland and Niue, a journey which takes around 3.5 hours but, confusingly, takes you back in time by a whole day due to changes in time zone.
Officially, there are records of a Niue national team as well as club football since 1960. A Niue national team attended the South Pacific Games in 1983 but they were beaten in their two games; this is the only official record of the national team’s performance.
We have not been able to obtain any evidence that there is currently an active football community on Niue; in fact, we have established the opposite. It seems that there is enthusiasm for football on Niue, but the islanders are instead playing rugby, netball and something called ‘Niuean cricket’, a variation on the traditional game. This makes Niue a prime target for Uncharted Football because we know that the local people have a love of sport, and in the past this has extended to football. Our mission will be to identify the barriers that have caused participation in football to cease or fizzle out, and then work with the local people to eradicate these.
We know the difference that football could make on an isolated coral atoll rumoured to have the 5th highest obesity rate in the world. We hope that our trip will present us with an opportunity to begin to make an impact, which in the long term could improve and even save lives.