The Solomon Islands might have lost the semi-final of the OFC U-20 Championship to Vanuatu but they’re not holding it against the host nation, far from it in fact.
Instead the Solomon Islanders decided to give something back to the community, and in particular Vanuatu’s children, with a visit to the Central Hospital children’s ward in Port Vila this morning.
Team manager Don Marahare said the visit was organised in an effort do something worthwhile for the local community as well as for the players themselves.
“We wanted to give back to the community. Just because we lost to Vanuatu doesn’t mean we should hate them. It’s not about that,” he said.
“Football is football, there’s always a winner and there’s always a loser.
‘t’s a good experience for the layers asmost of them are starting to see that football is more than just kicking a ball around on the field. I think this will help them in the future in terms of being better professional players.”
Marahare said the experience was as much about widening the players’ perspectives of life as it was about meeting the young children.
“Coming to see the sick children means a lot to us. Firstly, I think we are fulfilling our social responsibility in terms of football,” he said.
“And secondly, for us as Christians, if we have the time we should be doing something for those who are in need or who are sick. We want to share with them, talk with them and we’ve given them small gifts which we hope will help them in their speedy recovery.”
Among the gifts shared by the boys were colourful footballs which Marahare said is a way of sharing the teams’ passion for football with the young children.
“Although they’re basically toys, it symbolises that football is more than just a football,” he said.
Solomon Islands U-20 captain Richard Raramo said it was an honour for him and his teammates to visit the children’s ward and hopefully share some cheer with the kids.
“We want to share the spirit of football, of Christianity and give presents to the children,” he said.
“It’s a pleasure to share with them, to know them.
“I feel sorry for them, it’s our first time visiting a hospital like this and it’s hard to see the kids sad but we want to make friends with and try and help them to smile.”
Teammate Sandrack Tui shared similar sentiments to his captain.
“For me as a player, I came here to give presents to the little ones who are so young. They know what we are doing for them and I hope that they will enjoy our time with them,” he said.
For one young mother it was a special treat for her children to meet the players who so recently represented their country with pride, and were now giving back to the community.
“It’s very nice to see them here. My son Felix is enjoying learning to kick the football with some of the players,” Helen said.
“It’s a very nice thing for the team to come here and visit the sick children you can see that they have made some kids very happy today including my boy.”
The Solomon Islands U-20 will return to Honiara on Sunday.