The FIFA Futsal World Cup got underway in Colombia today and there’s one fan in Vanuatu who is keeping a close eye on how the Oceania representatives Solomon Islands perform.
Albert Witney is in Vanuatu representing Solomon Islands at the OFC U-20 Championship and while he’s 100 per cent focused on the task at hand, he’s also following the journey of his big brother, Jack Wetney.
“Growing up I used to follow him around a lot but he was older so he was in a different group to me,” Witney says.
“I do want to be like him.”
It’s certainly an achievable dream for the young up-and-comer who is already knocking on the door ready to join Jack when the call comes.
Witney was a member of the Kurukuru’s wider training squad and only narrowly missed out on joining the team, and his brother, in Colombia.
While it would have been a huge opportunity, Witney is far from dwelling on what might have been.
“You know, I love football and I love futsal. Both of them I enjoy, but I think I like football more,” he said.
He’s been a key member of the Solomon Islands squad as they made their way to the semi-finals in Vanuatu playing with the flair that has become synonymous with Solomon Islands football.
“It’s hard to describe the style of Solomon Islands football but it is really just about kids playing on the street all the time with the ball, and it grows from there.
“In a lot of ways it is similar to Brazilian football.”
He believes it is this style that has helped the Solomon Islands become regional futsal powerhouses despite lagging behind their counterparts in terms of facilities and resources.
“Back home we just love to play, we love having the ball at our feet,” he said.
And with the Kurukuru set to make open their third FIFA Futsal World Cup this week, he’s backing the team to do better than ever before.
“I think if anyone in the team is going to score it will be Elliot Ragomo, he’s a great player,” he said.
“And it would be great if Jack could score too. I think the team will be very good in Colombia, I’ll be following their results closely.”
The Kurukuru kick off their opening Group E match against Costa Rica at Coliseo Bicentenario in Bucaramanga on Monday 12 September (10am Tuesday 13 September in Solomon Islands).
A short time later, Witney and his U-20 colleagues will be kicking off in the biggest match of their young careers, when they take on hosts Vanuatu at Port Vila Stadium in the day’s second semi-final at the OFC U-20 Championship.
It will be a huge day for the Solomon Islands and these two brothers and there is no doubt the results of these two key matches will be anticipated on both sides of the planet.