NATIONAL ACADEMY NEARS COMPLETITION
Work on the Solomon Islands National Soccer Academy at lower Panatina in Honiara is approaching completion, the academy is the second FIFA Goal project in Solomon Islands.
The first project saw Lawson Tama turf and other facilities being upgraded. With the new academy, Solomon Island Football Federation (SIFF) will be able to accommodate their development programmes.
And the completion of the academy will also benefit referees and coaches as their programmes can now be centralised in Honiara.
A date for the official opening has not yet been decided.
HONIARA PREPARES FOR RETURN OF SOLOMON CUP
Honiara’s spectators will be treated to a week of soccer competition when all provincial teams converge on the nation’s capital for the Solomon Cup tournament.
The tournament was last held back in 1999 in Gizo, Western Province where the Malaita Eagles were crowned champions.
However, the prestigious tournament died a natural death following the events of the ethnic tension and SIFF had not been able to organise one until very recently when it decided to revive the competition.
SIFF will use this upcoming tournament to identify potential players, particularly at youth level.
The tournament proper will kick off on October 15 with the grand final on October 22.
SI EYES PACIFIC GAMES GOLD MEDAL
SIFF is working towards taking gold at the Pacific Games in Samoa in 2007.
SIFF General Secretary, Eddie Ngava made his intentions clear when he told media of the federation’s goal.
The Solomon Islands has never won soccer gold at the Pacific Games, and Ngava believes this is the right time to rise up.
Last year saw Solomon Islands brush aside its South Pacific opponents neighbours to set up a date with Australia – first for the OFC Nations Cup and most recently for the FIFA World Cup.
Now this campaign was over, Ngava says the ultimate goal of the federation is to move forward with new vision.
While not releasing all details, Ngava indicated that youth players would make up the bulk of the team.
Australia’s departure from OFC to join the Asian Football Confederation leaves a gap at the top, and like the other leading countries in the region, Solomon Islands will vie for this position.
But Ngava believes Solomon Islands has the quality of players it needs at its disposal to achieve this goal.
OPINION – COMPLACANCY MUST BE AVOIDED
The Solomon Islands has now reached a stage where it can confidently take on any opponent in the Oceania region.
Even beyond the region, Solomon Islands can measure its standard with some countries in the other football confederations.
And while that maybe the widely-held belief, we must avoid complacency.
Solomon Islands success in reaching the playoff stage with Australia for the OFC Nations Cup and FIFA World Cup is just the tip of the ice-berg.
After some years of stagnancy, the country has reclaimed its footballing status among the best nations in the region after Australia.
SIFF’s Development officer, Noel Wagapu believes the only way we can maintain our foothold at the top is to develop a comprehensive development plan where we target development in the rural area.
First and foremost SIFF must revive its coaching programme in the rural areas with the aim of getting all provincial Football Associations active in developing and promoting the game around the country.
Each provincial FA will also be responsible for running competition for youths, while SIFF will organize regular national youth tournaments where all the cream of players from the provinces can showcase their talents.
This will allow SIFF to identify and select new players for their various youth squads.
Wagapu believes that the only way forward for Solomon Islands is to have this comprehensive development plan put in place.
On top of this, the Solomon’s diplomatic relationship with Brazil, forged early this year, must be exploited to include soccer. We have a lot to gain from this relationship as in the past there was no such diplomatic marriage between the two countries.
“Brazilians of the Pacific” is a term many love to use when referring to Solomon Islands style of football, but we have yet to prove that we can live up to this tag.
Indeed with Brazilian coach Airton Andrioli at the helm of our senior national team a lot was achieved in his one month stint.
Notable results included the 3-0 beating of a New Zealand selection that comprised their home-based All Whites, and the 1-2 loss to Australia in Honiara.
Reflecting on this recent success, we must push aside complacency and strive for greater things ahead.
This is the difficult part to maintain, our status, and Solomon Islands Football Federation will need to expend its effort, time and money to ensure it achieves its goals.
By Francis Pituvaka – SIFF Media Officer