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We are all ready to live the dream at the Confederations Cup: Interview with Tahiti international Tamatoa Wagemann

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A former RC Strasbourg youth, with plenty of experience in France and Switzerland, Tahiti and AS Dragon defender Tamatoa Wagemann has certainly played a major role in the island’s rise to the world stage of football, as they will live a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they will play in the next Confederations Cup against Nigeria, Spain and Uruguay, one of the finest national teams in the world.

When were you contacted first by the FTF (Fédération Tahitienne de Football) to play for the Tahitian national team and how did you get involved with them?

I’ve been contacted for the first time in 2006 by the national team coach to play two friendly matches against New Zealand, which both ended 0-0. I was playing in Switzerland in the 2.Liga [with FC Alle].

Which were Tahiti’s expectations before the OFC Nations Cup last year?

I wanted to go there to win any match because I knew we had a great potential, despite before the start of the tournament we certainly were not the favorites.

How did you react after New Zealand’s elimination?

I was not surprised, because I followed the other match [New Zealand-New Caledonia 0-2] on tv and I saw that they were in trouble, heat was revealing to be a true problem for them.

In your opinion, where Tahitian football must improve most?

I think [it must improve] especially the standard of tackles and physical condition.

How is the country preparing for the next Confederations Cup? And the team?

The federation has set up an excellent organization to prepare this competition in three months, we’re signed to a contract and we are 100% at the service of the national team like professional footballers! We train twice a day, we have access to doctors, sessions of muscular training, physiotherapy etc…

Which is the current role of football in Tahiti?

Football is a bit in decline in our island since last few years, because it’s especially beach soccer and futsal the sports that attire most our youth. However our win at the Nations Cup has a bit saved football in Tahiti.

Why hasn’t Tahiti performed as expected in the last World Cup qualifiers?

The first reason is the lack of rhythm, because the first matches of the World Cup qualification have been played in August while the Tahitian championship [Tahiti First Division] started only in October. We didn’t have our best debut and it was difficult to recover from that.

What do you think of Tahiti’s results at the last Coupe d’Outre Mer in September?

I think we played a good tournament, especially considering our win over Martinique who were the reigning champions. We finished ex aequo at the first place but we didn’t qualify for the semi-finals because of the goal difference, it was a pity because we had the potential to go to the final.

Do you think that Tahiti’s connections with France could help them improve their level of football?

I don’t have the impression that France is helping us much, I think they could do much more but that’s all about politics and that’s not my area of interest.

Do you think that there are some Tahitian players who could play professional football? Could you name some of them?

Yes, without any doubt! There are some young players who have the skills to play professional football, I’m thinking of Alvin Tehau, Donovan Bourebare, Steevy Chong Hue.

Our last question: which are you future goals of the season and of your career?

I’ve just won the championship and the Tahiti Cup with AS Dragon, we are totally focused on the OFC Champions League and we’ve just beaten Auckland City [the current champions] 3-1 away. We have still two matches to play and qualify for the semi-finals and that would be great for Tahitian football. In June we have the Confederations Cup in Brazil and I take it as a reward, because there’s nothing better than ending [the career] with a competition like this!

By Christian Rizzitelli

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