Solomon Islands determined to compete on home soil, Kiribati withdraws from football

Photo: SOL2023 Pacific Games

Team Solomon Islands will be the first contingent to move into camp at St. Joseph Tenaru Secondary School in Honiara as early as 14 November and continue their training for the 2023 Pacific Games.

Village Coordinator Leonard Ata’ata said so far there will be more than 600 athletes to be accommodated at Tenaru.

He said community groups were on-site as of this week and continue to do clean-up, furnish the dorms with bedding materials, and ensure all utilities to be used are set.

Ata’ata said his team was supported by 21 volunteers and will be stationed at Tenaru for the duration of the Games.

He added that their team is on-site to ensure resources and work tools needed to support service delivery teams are available on-site.

Service providers for the game’s village venues include security, catering, medical teams, cleaning and waste management, ice bath services, and transportation.

Team Solomons parade through Honiara City

Team Solomon Islands also took part in a parade march last week from the Honiara City Council (HCC) Headquarters to the SMI grounds showing their determination to compete on home soil and an intention of achieving a new-medals record for the country.

Speaking at the ceremony Chef de mission (CDM) of the Solomon Islands delegation, Faye Ghemu said, “This upcoming Pacific Games is a historic one for Solomon Islands [as it will be] the first time the Pacific Games will be hosted on our shores.

“Secondly this will be the first time our new sporting facilities will be used for international matches and games and most importantly this will be the first time our athletes will be competing on home turf across various sport codes surrounded by what I would expect a huge home-based crowd”.

Ghemu also told the 500 plus athletes, “Consider yourselves privileged to be among the first athletes chosen to compete in some of the region’s best and newest facilities, representing the nation at the highest regional sporting event”

Team Solomons CDM also expressed the team’s appreciation to the Solomon Islands Government and its friends and partners for their support in bringing the games into the ‘Hapi Isles’.

The ceremony was also officiated by the Minister of Home Affairs, Christopher Laore and the Governor General, Sir David Vunagi who unveiled the Team Solomon T-Shirt.

“To those of you who have represented the nation in training overseas and competing with other players must show to the nation what you have learnt and aim high for a successful result at the end of the games”, said Sir Vunagi.

Pacific Games football competition set

Meanwhile, the draw for the football competition at the 2023 Pacific Games has been made with the teams placed based on the current FIFA rankings as stipulated in the Pacific Games 2023 manual.

A total of 12 has placed in three pools for the men’s competition with Kiribati withdrawing from the competition resulting in a slight revision of the final fixtures by the Games Organising Committee (GOC). The Micronesian nation’s last appearance in men’s football was during the 2011 games in New Caledonia.

Group A features 2011 gold medalists New Caledonia, Tonga and Cook Islands while Melanesian heavy-weights Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are placed in Group B alongside Tuvalu.

An exciting Group C sees five-times gold medallists Tahiti meeting rivals Fiji and Northern Marianas. Hosts Solomon Islands will be looking to win their first ever Pacific Games gold medal as they meet Samoa and American Samoa in Group D.

In the women’s competition, 10 countries were drawn in three groups with Group A features favorites Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, New Caledonia and American Samoa.

Group B includes Tonga, Tahiti and Samoa while it will be an all-Melanesian affair in Group C with Fiji pooled alongside Vanuatu and hosts Solomon Islands.

Football matches will commence on 17 November with matches to be played at Lawson Tama Stadium and the Solomon Islands Football Federation’s (SIFF) Academy with finals for both competition happening at the Nation Stadium.

Tonga wins support for Pacific Games funding

Meanwhile, the Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC), received a $600,000 pa’anga (US$265,966.34) cheque from the Tonga government to fund the national teams going to regional competitions.

The 2023 Pacific Games are coming up from 19 November – 2 December in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The Minister for Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea, handed over the cheque to the President of TASANOC, Michael Bloomfield.

Tonga’s team will have local and international players from around the region, who will compete in 19 of the 24 sports at the Pacific Games.

Both men’s and women’s teams qualified to all 19 sports. However, the women’s team will not be participating in two including, weight-lifting and volleyball.