Emotions were in high supply at the Rarotonga International Airport as the successful Puaikura FC men’s team walked out of the arrivals gate last Saturday afternoon.
The Rarotongan club champions who had recently topped the OFC Champions League Qualifiers in Tonga last week, were welcomed home to an entourage of anxiously waiting family members and a traditional turou performed by a fellow friend of the team and national U20 rep, Melbourne Matakino.
The sweet aroma of freshly picked flowers filled the air as each member was greeted with a piece of home around their neck and a warm embrace of hugs by their loved ones.
The celebrations for the team continued upon their return as they momentarily shared their victory and jubilation with their number one supporters from home.
“It’s such a good feeling to come home and be welcomed by people you love and have supported you from the very start,” said Rarotonga based-player Pekay Edwards.
“Although we felt tired from our journey in Tonga, our spirits were lifted as soon as we walked out of those gates,” he said.
Yet the journey is not over for Puaikura FC who have only two weeks to hone in on preparations for the next stage of the OFC Champion’s League Group Stages in March.
“We’ve done the first part and now it’s going to be tougher,” said Edwards.
The team will head over to Kone, New Caledonia next where they will face against Team Wellington, Fiji’s Ba FC and Hienghene Sports Club in the Group B division.
The OFC Champions League is set to kick off from February 25- May 6 in New Caledonia and Auckland, New Zealand.
Puaikura face a tough start Team Wellington on 26 February at the Stade Yoshida in Kone.