Thursday, 29 November 2012 8:58 AM
Solomon Islands' Keeper Huia makes History Books
Solomon Islands national futsal goalkeeper, Paul Huia, has made history as the first player to play across the three disciplines of football at FIFA level after taking part in the recent FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand.
Despite playing in just two of the three World Cup matches in Thailand, Huia has walked away with an honour that he never dreamt of achieving.
His multi-discipline hat-trick became possible when he was selected as the second goalkeeper for the Solomon Islands national football team in the Oceania qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
His debut for the national football team was in the Solomon Islands' 6-1 loss to New Zealand on September 11 this year.
Having also represented Solomon Islands at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup held in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, the stage was set for Huia's world record.
The moment the whistle blew to kick-off the Kurukuru's match against Russia on November 3, the record became official.
The significance of Huia's achievement is only fully realised when you consider that his foray into football, which began more than a decade ago, was a total accident.
Huia was playing rugby with his friends after school at Lawson Tama Stadium when the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) youth development officer, Noel Wagapu, asked for someone to play in goal because the U-17 goalkeeper did not turn up for training.
All the rugby players raced for the empty goal but Huia was the first to arrive - and the rest is history.
Huia's accomplishment is made even more interesting by the fact that he comes from a region of the Solomon Islands that is not particularly well-known for producing sportspeople, let alone footballers.
He comes from Ontong Java, an atoll to the north of Malaita, where there is barely enough space for people to even plant vegetable gardens.
However, his upbringing in urban Honiara helped him develop a penchant for sports.
Huia says it is a great feeling to come from such a small country and make a mark like this on football history.
"I feel really proud but it is also a big surprise for me," Huia says.
"Ever since I started playing football I have enjoyed it but I never dreamt of any world records. For me, it was all about the joy of playing this game but this news has made me feel like all the hard work has been worth it."
Huia remains committed to football but has selected futsal as the code he wishes to further his career in.
"I enjoy football, futsal and beach soccer but at this stage I want to concentrate on futsal. I enjoy the intensity and pace of futsal and how the goalkeeper is involved in play so I want to focus my efforts in this code and hopefully even make the next FIFA World Cup," the 29-year-old says.
Back with his 11-a-side club in Honiara, Huia is now looking forward to adding another milestone to his career when the Solomon Warriors compete in the OFC Champions League in 2013.
He helped the Solomon Warriors to their double title triumph earlier this year when they won both the Telekom S-League series and the championship - a first for any club in the competition.
Besides Huia's world record feat, the Kurukuru managed to obtain several other milestones during the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
Their win over Guatemala will forever remain in history as the first victory at a Futsal World Cup for the Solomon Islands, and for any other current Oceania country.
Also worth mentioning is that two Kurukuru players won the FIFA.com Goal of the Day - Micah Lea'alafa for his strike against Colombia on November 6 before Anthony Talo followed suit with his match winner three days later.
Talo's goal was among those later nominated for the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup Goal of the Tournament.
And before the World Cup kicked off, the side added another achievement to the ever-growing list that runs the risk of being forgotten.
The win against Thailand in a friendly match on October 24 was Solomon Islands' first victory outside of Oceania.