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Sirubai Beach Soccer Tournament opens the new year

Mudskipper Orange captain Kiven Koipala receives the trophy from Benjamin Mela. Credit: Henry Kaniki

The 3rd annual Sirubai Beach Soccer Tournament 2020 ended on a high note earlier this week at Kubolia Beach Soccer Stadium, South Vella Island in Western Province of Solomon Islands.

The tournament was held at 1-6 January 2020 with a total of 18 teams participating in what has become a key event on the annual local sporting calendar.

Sirubai Voko Tribe Association (SVTA) in collaboration with Western Football Association (WFA) founded the tournament with the help of  in-kind support from Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF). The event was officiated by a former national Beach Soccer player, Benjamin Mela, who helped establish the local stadium.

The purpose of the competition is to promote the discipline in rural areas. The recent international activities of the national beach soccer team, the Bilikiki, has proven that grassroots players can bring about positive change to the competency of the team with the natural talents and skills they possess.

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) took the initiative to waive the registration fee for the competition, with the costs covered by the two local associations and the national football body SIFF. Transport for the referees was provided by Henry Kaniki and family, while Solomon Telekom and Sol Rice also provided prizes.

The communities within the Sirubai region (Beiporo to Kibiri) were appreciative of the approach the LOC took for this year’s edition, with chairman of the SVTA, Leonard Kuboto, applauding the number of teams which participated for the first time.

“The new teams showed a high level of skills and talent with a promising future for this football code in this region,” he said. “In particular Kibiri FC were very competitive during the course of the tournament and despite being newcomers, reached the grand final and losers final.”

Mudskipper Orange, led by captain Kiven Koipala a member of the Bilikiki, was crowned as the undisputed champion for Sirubai Beach Soccer Tournament Championship for the third consecutive year.

They won the grand final by a clear 3-0 margin to Kibiri 1 FC from Kibiri village. Third place was claimed by Kibiri 2 FC , another new side which proved their talent during the competition.

Individual awards were given to Kenert for Bicycle kick goal scorer (Senior Green FC), Roney Dickson was top goal scorer with 10 goals (Mudskipper Orange FC), Henry for Best Goalkeeper (Kibiri 1 FC), Best Defender went to Opety Zabe (Harbour Beach 2) and Clayton Kozamaja was named most improved player (Harbour Beach 1).

During the official opening of the program, Mr. Henry Kaniki highlighted the importance of sports in the community.

“Youths are the main targeted group and this tournament has promoted positive changes to the lives of the people in Sirubai,” Kaniki outlined.

Kaniki also called on local chiefs and landowners to open their land for such activities for the betterment of the younger generation.

According to Chief Caleb Bukiri, the surrounding people have benefited in one way or another through the selling of local goods which has worked to strengthen the relationship among the people help celebrate the New Year 2020 in a positive manner.

The next edition will be in December 2020, with the LOC already inviting teams to express their interest in participating.

Courtesy: Henry Kaniki

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