SIFF eying Asia and Europe for Kurukurus preparation
By Taromane Martin
THE Solomon Islands national futsal team, Kurukurus, will have an extra 12 months to prepare for the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania after FIFA announced the event has been postponed.
The football world governing body on Tuesday last week had confirmed that the Futsal World Cup which was original set to take place on September 12 2020 will now take place September 12 to October 3 in 2021, due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) President Mr William Lai welcomed the announcement saying it was expected and that the coronavirus is something the whole world had to overcome.
Mr Lai said they feel the move was necessary and not a surprise stressing the Kurukurus and SIFF can do more in this 12 months in terms of preparations and hosting futsal competitions in the country.
SIFF had planned to kick the 2020 season of the SIPA national Futsal League off in April but was forced to reschedule due to the pandemic.
Despite the situation, Mr Lai said it is still not too late to start the 2020 season again and is planning on kicking off the league soon depending on when the government will ease restrictions.
“Once the boarder is opened up between Australia and Solomon Islands we will go to Australia for a period of training- maybe two to three weeks-because our head coach lives in Australia,” Lai said.
“So therefore he can arrange all the training programmes, all the facilities at his home city (in Lismore, eight hours north of Sydney).
“We will spend more time overseas to build up our training programmes in Australia. We will do some tournaments in Asia and then, hopefully, in the final stage near the tournament we’re going to have one tournament in Europe before we go to the world cup so it’s going to be exciting times ahead for us,” Lai said.
Sydney based Kurkuru Head Coach Vinnicius Leite said the players have been maintaining their fitness individually during the COVID-19 pandemic and is hopeful they will be able to train together as team soon.
“As soon as we are able to train together we can hopefully bring the team over to Australia and continue with our preparations and to at least have two international overseas training camps,” Leite told RNZ in an interview.
“The Kurukurus are fortunate have already secured their place in Lithuania and be amongst 13 out of the 24 countries for the competition.
“To not have a stadium- a big stadium- to qualify for four straight World Cups in a row without much financial incentive compared to the other teams, having to have shoes donated to them, uniforms donated to them, balls donated- imagine how much more they could achieve and do if they had the basics, which they’re going to start having it now. I’m a very optimistic person and after this qualifiers things are going to change for the better.
“This time around our aim is to get out of the group stages. You have to have ambitions to win it but you have to be realistic and honest with yourself.
“With the team we have it’s going to be almost impossible to win but if we can get out of the group stage that will be a remarkable achievement which is what we are working towards,” Leite adds.
Meanwhile Kurkuru team captain Elliot Ragomo had called for public support towards the team’s preparation for the world cup saying the players and management now more than ever, needs the support of the whole nation as they seek to make history for Solomon Islands at their fourth FIFA World Cup.