Future bright for Waimora and Ladoga

Waimora and Ladoga, from the Malaita Province, were spotted by St. Kentigerns 1st XI coach and former All White Michael Ridenton at the OFC U-17 Men’s Championship in 2011.
Ridenton, working as part of the OFC Technical Study Group at the tournament, remembers their eye-catching talent well.
“They both stood out at that tournament. George was a very composed defender and Alex was a typical Solomon Islands striker – exciting on the ball and with an eye for goal.
“As people they were shy and humble but they quickly bought into the school and the experience has changed their lives,” Ridenton said.
While spotting talent is relatively straight forward, giving that talent a platform to flourish and realise its potential can be circuitous.
But that’s where the Charlie Dempsey Memorial Scholarship opened a door for Waimora and Ladoga.
Named after former OFC President Charles Dempsey, the Scholarship was mooted by the OFC Executive Committee in November 2010 on the premise that the secondary school would contribute 50% of the costs in bringing Waimora and Ladoga to New Zealand.
The scholarship was also aimed at providing educational and football opportunities for youth across the pacific.
Both students commenced their studies at St. Kentigerns in 5th Form in 2011 and rapidly found their feet thanks to Peter Langsford and Martin Piaggi.
Academic success was followed by football success as the benefits of the Scholarship unfolded.
Alex is now Head Prefect in the Boarding House and alongside George, made his international debut for the Solomon Islands national team in their match with Tahiti during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying competition.
“Alex is the Head of Bruce House, but they’ve both come a long way academically given access to education in Solomon Islands can be limited,” Ridenton said.
Domestic football success included victory at the New Zealand National Secondary Schools tournament in 2013, a first for St. Kentigerns.
More national success followed when Waimora and Ladoga helped guide their Three Kings United U-19 team to victory at the New Zealand U-19 Youth Football Championship in Napier.
Currently, both youths are the focus of Auckland United, a new club that makes its debut in the ASB National Youth League this summer.
Like any scholarship programme, holistic development is key and the future for both looks bright as the door to tertiary education and future employment in New Zealand swings wide.