BY ROMULUS HUTA
ORGANISERS are anticipating a bigger Auki Futsal Challenge at the end of this year compared to the previous two editions since inception in 2016.
Challenge Coordinator Paul Mae told SunSPORTS yesterday that they are expecting up to 32 teams for the men’s competition.
The challenge will also feature a women’s component and nine teams have confirmed so far.
“We expect more teams to register and confirm participations in the lead up to the competition.
“For the men’s we have 23 so far and big interests are coming. Our target is 30 or 32 teams.
“Three teams from Honiara and one overseas-based have already confirmed their participation. But we expect a bigger participation figure this year and it’s going to be exciting,” Mae expressed.
The Auki Futsal Challenge has been scheduled to run from December 15 to 22 at Aligegeo Court with the theme ‘Promoting Women in Sports’.
Last year, New Settlers Futsal team was crowned the champions after defeating Kingstone in an action-packed contest.
According to Mae, the challenge began in 2016 and was initially restricted to futsal clubs and teams in and around Auki and Bati Futsal from Fiji was the only club from outside.
Mae added a year later, it grew bigger in the second edition following interests shown by teams from Honiara.
“The idea was to build and nurture the confidence of local clubs.
“In the 2017 challenge the first Honiara club to be invited was G Camp Futsal, the reigning Wantoks Cup Champions and a Honiara futsal powerhouse.
“The participation of G Camp Futsal at the challenge raised the profile of the event and drew huge crowds. Not only that, it also raised the level of local players, as they use the opportunity to measure up against Kurukuru reps and Honiara based players.
“This year we are looking forward to more of that, as more Honiara based clubs will make their way across the Indispensable Strait to Auki Town.
“As the Auki Futsal Challenge draws closer, all eyes will be on the current title holder.
“The question this year is, will they defend their title? News is, all the teams around Auki Town and Honiara are now preparing for the challenge.
“Kurukuru target man George Stevenson is taking a star studded side over to Auki comes December.
“HFA side CY Strikers will be travelling to Auki as well. Also, last year’s semi-finalist USP Bati/Wantoks will be bringing a much stronger side this year after going down to Kooline Futsal in the Vodafone International cup final in Fiji last month.
“This year’s challenge is going to be exciting!” Mae assured.
Meanwhile, clubs who have shown interests so far for the men’s are are Ailako, Kingston, Deadsand, Realas, DFC Warriors, Wantoks Futsal, New Settlers 1 & 2, Wantoks Futsal (Fiji), Honiara-based team, CY Strikers, Borders, GB United, Sanctus, Benedictus, Dawn Force, Shatorus, Auki Eels, Ambu Youth, Mataks, F-Ridge, Brothers, Central Coast and Mid-Sea Futsal.
For the women’s, they are Ailako, Kingston, Realas, Borders, Sanctus 1 & 2, DFC and Auki Eels.
The list will be updated once in the coming days and weeks leading up to the competition.