Trophy here to inspire
BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE famous and the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy made a four hours stopover at the Henderson International Airport yesterday for the Honiara leg of its world tour, enroute to this year’s showdown in Russia.
The trophy arrived on a private aircraft from Tonga as part of a Coca Cola global tour to inspire and encourage football followers in the sport, in a lead up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia in June.
The arrival of the trophy yesterday was received by His Excellency Governor General Sir Frank Kabui and other senior government officials.
Touched down at the Henderson International Airport 6:45am yesterday morning, hundreds of soccer followers turned up to witness the brief ceremony held to welcome the most coveted soccer trophy.
The historic visit of the trophy yesterday was accompanied by FIFA ambassador and former French 1998 world cup winning midfielder, Christian Karembeu.
Karembeu, who hails from Lifou in New Caledonia, is the first Pacific Islander to play in the senior world cup when he helped France won the 1998 edition.
Speaking to SunSPORTS yesterday, Karembeu said he is honoured to bring the trophy here.
“This marks the beginning of the dream. But it takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, commitment and dedication to become a champion.
“This is not only for football but applies to every sport.
“Every success comes with a lot of hard work and commitment. Just believe in your dreams and you will achieve it.
“But the dream must also be aided by good football development programmes.”
Karembeu was a regular starter for France in the 1998 world cup and the Euro 2000 tournaments where the French side won.
His dream to rise to become one of the top footballers in Europe started at the age of 17 when Karembeu left his homeland to attend the Nantes Football Academy in France where he won the French Championship in 1995 with the Nantes senior team. Three years later, he won another trophy, the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and later the world cup.
Two years after winning the World Cup™, Karembeu won the European Championship before announcing his international retirement in 2002 with 53 caps and one goal scored.
Reflecting on the lengthy colourful soccer career of Karembeu, the participation at the World Cup 1998 was a special one in the footballing history for New Caledonia and OFC.
Even if the Oceania Confederation didn’t have any teams representing it at the FIFA World Cup™ France 1998, it did have one player born and raised in the Pacific doing the region proud. With the whole of the Pacific behind him, Christian Karembeu helped hosts France lift the World Cup™ trophy.
The dreadlocked Lifou native said it’s great to be back in Oceania, where he belongs and grew up.
He said Solomon Islands deserve to see this piece of history of football the iconic, unique FIFA World Cup trophy in a global tour.
“We are going to inspire our youths to play football, promote it and implement the values of our sport which is respect and fair play without discriminations to build our future and nations.“
Following the stopover in Honiara yesterday, it was flown to Port Moresby where it will spend a night before heading to its next destination.
The world cup tour started in September last year in Russia and will visit 51 countries across six continents.
The world cup will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15.