Solomon Islands want futsal overhaul
The Solomon Islands Football Federation believes a major change is needed if the national futsal team is to compete on the world stage.
Kurukuru finished winless at the World Cup in Lithuania this month, conceding 22 goals in losses to Morocco, Portugal and Thailand.
The Oceania champions have made four consecutive World Cups but struggled to make an impact against countries with bigger budgets, better facilities and more regular competition – winning just once in 13 attempts.
Solomon Islands Football Federation president William Lai said the team “had done their best” in Vilnius, but their best was no longer enough at the top level.
“We don’t want to be beaten by 15-nil, 10-nil. We just have to accept that we are in the World Cup and we are at the level where we are now… we have to think it over and we should have a better track record. for the future of futsal in terms of the national team. “
Lai said the futsal program needs more investment, more focus on development and more opportunities to play regular international matches.
“Unless we move in a new direction, in terms of facilities, in terms of youth development and in terms of international competitions and tournaments, I think if there is no change we will always be the same, ”he said.
“We have to reinvest in futsal. Putting more money into futsal is the main thing.”
Solomon Islands received NZ $ 50,000 for their preparations for the World Cup after winning the Oceania championship.
It paid off for a month-long training camp in Poland and Croatia, but Lai said additional support was needed to compete at the elite level.
“I think we should look at the elite programs of the OFC – put more money for the nations that deserve it when they are at a higher level in the elite programs,” he said. .
“The bigger nations that get results should be more groomed, so we should be closer to Asia, South America and Europe because we need more competition.”
Solomon Islands have dominated futsal in Oceania since Australia moved to Asia 15 years ago. But William Lai said the gap at the top is narrowing.
“Everyone is catching up. In New Zealand they have maybe hundreds of indoor facilities – we’re going to build one and for us one is long overdue but it’s coming,” he said.
“We are going to have more competition internally, try to attract more international countries to play Honiara and at the same time we should also think about going to our nearest continent, AFC, for more matches in Asia. , I think it pays off.
“I think we have to do more if we are to qualify for the next World Cup.”
Building a long-awaited futsal facility in Honiara is a major piece of the puzzle.
The Kurukuru have competed in four consecutive World Cups, although they do not have a dedicated facility to play and train.
That will change when the new multi-purpose hall built by Indonesia is completed ahead of the 2023 Pacific Games.
Solomon Islands Football Federation president William Lai said they plan to hold an international futsal tournament next year to celebrate the opening and five-time world champions Brazil want to participate. .
“They are delighted to come to Solomon Islands, so we are planning to organize an international tournament to open our arena,” he said.
“They love the way we play and they’re amazed that we don’t have any facilities, but we’re still very competitive.
“We’re thinking of an eight-team, one-week tournament, and it could be an exciting and historic event.”
William Lai says they have also spoken with teams from Europe and would like to have representatives from as many confederations as possible.
The Kurukuru team left Lithuania on Tuesday and are expected to return to the Solomon Islands on Friday afternoon, after stops in Frankfurt, Dubai and Brisbane.
After eight weeks on the road, Lai said they were eager to return home and thanked the Australian government for granting them a travel exemption to bypass a stay in quarantine.
“We appreciate that FIFA is negotiating with the Australian government, so we don’t need to quarantine,” he said.
“Our players and our management have been away from home for a long time, away from their families… I think everyone is happy to go home.”
However, the 22 players and support staff will be required to spend three weeks in a managed quarantine hotel upon arrival in Honiara, as mandated by the Solomon Islands government.