BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands (NOCSI) has confirmed the participation of the under-18 futsal boys team in the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina come October.
The confirmation was made during Wednesday’s NOCSI Executive meeting in Honiara.
Wednesday’s declaration had put to rest doubts and uncertainty which previously hovers over the youth futsal side’s trip to Argentina following a quota in the games’ regulation which had it that each participating National Olympic Committee (NOC) is only allowed to send only one team sport per gender to participate in the global youth tournament.
Weeks leading up to the decision, futsal was in a stern competition with the hockey 5s under-18 boys following their qualification during April’s hockey qualifiers in PNG as to who will be given the green light by NOCSI to represent Solomon Islands in the games.
The Youth Olympic Games will run from October 6 to 18 in Buenos Aires and athletics and weightlifting are the other two approved sporting codes by NOCSI to accompany futsal.
Weightlifting and athletics are attending the games through ‘wild card’ unlike the case of futsal.
According to NOCSI, the decision embarked on to declare futsal men as the country’s team sport for the games was not an easy decision made by NOCSI taking into consideration that hockey men’s had also qualified through the same process.
“Hence, following the final deliberation by the NOCSI Executive Board in today’s meeting 23rd May 2018, the NOCSI Executive Board boldly agreed to send the Futsal men to compete at the Youth Olympic Games.
“The decision to pick futsal over hockey men’s is based on obvious reasons such as the following:
- By merit and excellent performance
- As a top number one ranked team in the Oceania
- As a crowned championship in 2017 Oceania qualification event.
- Competitive team at world/ Olympic stage
NOCSI President Martin Rara said: “On this note, I would like to congrate both futsal and hockey for making into the final stage to be qualified.
“However, it is unfortunate for Hockey men for not to be travelling to Bueno Aires as the IOC/YOGs rules and regulation spelt out very clear that there will only one space for team sport per gender to be selected from four (4) team sports that is ( Rugby Sevens, Futsal, Beach Handball and Hockey). In this situation, NOCSI select futsal to represent Solomon Islands as the most outstanding performed team sport in the region.
“As President, I would like to ask the national federation to cooperate with us in preparation the team.
“The process has now been completed, so I expect national federations to work closely with us to ensure we prepare our teams and meet deadlines.
“This will be the first of its kind to send a team to youth Olympic Games that truly qualified through merit or qualification. During the past two youth olympic games we only sent individual sports through Universality Placement (UP) or ‘wild card’.”