Photo Courtesy of FIFA.com
Tahiti, a nation of only 180,000 inhabitants, proved that the saying "winning isn't everything" is more than a cliche. The tiny South Pacific island captivated the hearts of soccer fans across the globe; showing the romantic side of sports.
With only one professional footballer on their squad, simply qualifying for the Confederations Cup was a dream come true for the underdogs from the Oceania Football Confederation. Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta even claimed that, "Tahiti has not come to win" ; that playing against world superpowers is more than this team could dream of.
Perhaps the most personified image of a "David versus Goliath" match up came on June 20th when Tahiti battled reigning world champion Spain in the historic Maracana Stadium. This story line did not quite follow biblical folklore, as mighty Spain pounded Tahiti 10-0 in Rio.
As if anyone needed deeper perspective into Tahiti's underdog status, consider this: one player on Tahiti's roster was Fernando Torres' honeymoon tour guide. Point being, a group of teachers, lawyers, government employees, and even unemployed men were given an opportunity to play the game they love against some of the greatest players in modern football. Tahiti proved that dreams can come true.
Tahiti may have lost all three matches with a goal differential of -23, but they won something much more important: the respect of football fans everywhere.