West Papua vs TikTok United FC
On the warmest 30th of October in Dutch recorded history, the West Papua football team walked onto the field of Quick in The Hague for a new football match. Since 2017, the team has played a series of matches against international opponents from all parts of the globe. However, the current opponent might be the most global yet; TikTok United FC. This football team consists of famous TikTok influencers who have come together to play charity and friendly matches. Together they have millions of online followers who undoubtedly enjoy their exploits on the field as much as those in ordinary life.
The match started at six in the evening with the players running up the field under the applause of the spectators. The players passed by the flag of CONIFA, the confederation of independent football associations, which was proudly held up by a small boy and girl. This setup proved appropriate since the charity match was dedicated to the West Papua refugee children. The money collected from the charity match is used to buy books, backpacks and other necessities for the children in West Papua in order to increase their life’s chances of a better future.
The national anthem of West Papua was played through the speakers whereby the sounds carried across the field where the players proudly held the Morningstar flag. After an introduction by the speaker of the event, Ms. Apilena Sapioper, of the teams and the purpose of the charity match, the game kicked off. It became quickly apparent that the teams were evenly matched and that the final result would be uncertain until the very end. The team’s fortunes changed several times during the match, with one team having the upper hand for a while, followed by a moment when the opponent had more chances. The lively match reflected the love of the game and the dedication to the support of the West Papua refugee children. The end result matched the enthusiasm of the players as well as the expectations of the spectators and many online viewers. The final score was five to five.
The match was broadcast live via Elevensports and can be viewed here: Match West Papua vs TikTik United. Furthermore, numerous journalists were present to report on the event. An elaborate article (in Dutch) on the match was published a few days later in a Dutch national newspaper. It can be read here: AD
Ms. Ruby Ann Kagaoan, the CONIFA Asia-Oceania president, also attended the event. Ms. Kagaoan visited the West Papua community in the Netherlands for several days where she had numerous meetings and attended social gatherings of the West Papua community. She is from the Philippines and brings with her a great deal of experience in sports management, which is rivalled by her dedication to the cause of a better, more inclusive world where people focus on what they have in common instead of how they differ. At an official meeting with the management of the Football Association West Papua, Mr. Simon Sapioper, Mr. Delon Tatem, Mr. Gary Llina and Mr. Jeroen Zandberg, she discussed the upcoming activities for 2023, including the CONIFA Asia Cup West. This football tournament is scheduled for the summer of 2023 and will take place in the Netherlands. The Football Association West Papua will play a key role in helping organizing this event.
FAWP president Simon Petrus Sapioper interview by football manager Delon Tatem."Our charity match against Tiktok United is dedicated to the West Papua refugees and the West Papuans that are still oppressed in their homeland. Football means to us more than just a fun sport. Through football we try to provide humanitarian aid to the young people of West Papua and the diaspora. Being a refugee in your own country is worse than being a refugee in Europe. In Europe, at least, their well-being is high on the political agenda. In our own country our people have fled into the woods in fear for their lives. Life is hard in the forests due to a shortage of quality crops to survive on. The United Nations does not adequately protect our people, because this is not politically possible and this leads to situations where children have to abandon their language and change their surname to get opportunities in their own country. We also see that children have to survive on the street. This is the fate we don't wish for any child. We wish for a prosperous future for all and have high hopes that a charity match like this can support the West Papuan refugees in lifting their spirits and providing them with opportunities."