A draw and a defeat dented the Solomon Islands dreams of an Oceania title and qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup and Bala knows why.
“The team has played well and we prepared well for the tournament but we lost our concentration at times in our first two games. We have to learn from this,” he says.
Bala made his international debut as an 11 year old at the OFC U-12 Festival of Football in Port Moresby in 2007 and hasn’t looked back.
He remains the only player from that group to advance through to the ranks of the Solomon Islands U-20 team.
One of Bala’s former team-mates from that U-12 side is Alex Waimora who recently completed a Charles J Dempsey scholarship at Saint Kentigerns College in Auckland, New Zealand.
Waimora is a big admirer of the young Malaitian.
“Fred to me will be one of the best defenders for Solomon Islands. He’s not very tall but he was always very well composed for our age back in 2007.
“He was already showing maturity then as a player. Fred was the smallest in our team but had so much passion for football,” Waimora explains.
Results haven’t gone Solomon Islands way in this tournament but Waimora says Bala can hold his head high.
“I believe Fred still has that passion in him and I believe he will improve more and more.
“I watched him against Vanuatu and he was outstanding because he can defend and then play higher up the pitch. Composure, that’s his greatest asset,” he says.
Bala says that under coaches Commins Menapi and Gideon Omokirio, Mamula has two good mentors in their corner.
“The feeling in our camp is good, we have two good coaches and we can enjoy a joke with them, too,” he says.
Bala, who plays for Malaita Kingz back home, has two players he admires above all others, Brazil great Ronaldinho and former England defender John Terry.
“I like the way Ronaldinho plays and how he always has a laugh and a smile on his face.
“But I also like Chelsea and I admire John Terry because he is a defender, but like me, he isn’t very big but he reads the game well,” he says.
While the door is closing on Solomon Islands hopes of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand next year, Bala retains belief Mamula can still reach the finals if they can win the rest of their matches.
“Yes, we still believe in each other and we want to do well in the last couple of games. But family is already proud of me playing U-12, U-15 then U-17 and one day, I hope, the full national team.
“My dream is to play in the OFC Nations Cup one day for my country,” he says.
Few would bet against the diminuitive Bala realising his dreams.
Solomon Islands face New Caledonia today at 5pm local time, before matches with American Samoa on May 29 and host nation Fiji on May 31 at ANZ Stadium in Suva.