Please allow me space to join other Solomon Islands soccer followers in condemning the recent torching of the SIFF Office in Honiara. It is indeed an action uncalled for and the perpertrators must be brought to justice.
I have also noted that many critics have pointed solely to the lack of adequate policing as the main failure lessons must be learnt from previous events and adequate number of police officers must be deployed to the games venue especially when tensely rival team are playing. While I do agree to this preposition, I strongly believe that adequate policing is not the answer to the problem, hence it not being the main problem.
Personal I believe it is an issue much deeper than that. You see, this has occurred in the past, but the real question is why does it happened? Is it because of inadequate policing? The answer is that it is not. The lies within the the prevailing politics of soccer in Solomon Islands which relevant authorities has been unable to address or resolve over the years.
Solomon Islander's love for the game of soccer is undeniable. But do they really love it to the extent that they hate the people that play the game? I don't think so. They are not angry at the players or the game, but as they have shown they are angry at responsible authorities.
The break-in (looting) and the eventual burning of the SIFF Office is a clear indication of that. Why is it that Sports Infrastructure are so centralised not allowing the benefits and "understanding of the game" to spread across the nation? And even with the millions of dollars already spent by OFC and FIFA our sports facilities are still among the poorest in the world.
This disparity in privilege has allowed the rise of very influential individuals in the sports of soccer, who are seen by SIFF and challenges to thier authority. This friction between them has created a very tense situation between SIFF and local "soccer service providers". Some of these individuals usually have strong following that are well aware of SIFF's misdemeanours.
SIFF as the main soccer governing body in Solomon Islands must improve from where it is now and stop being too defensive when critics raise concerns about its practices and irresponsibility. It's case with the Island Sun newspaper is a typical example of this irresponsibility and naivety. Another is their decision to keep the $800 000 which they alleged was stolen during the looting of the Office before it was burnt down. Don't they trust the banks anymore? $800 000 is just a lot of money and should not be left lying around the office in a paper case. It is just so unbelievable.
SIFF must be forwarding loking and not to blame inadequate policing for its problems. The issue of inadequate policing is only peripheral to the real issue of the need for sound management that fosters, transparency, accoutability and responsibility.
We may have the whole of the police force going to Lawson Tama to oversee games but problems will still happen if the frustrations and the dirty politics of soccer in Solomon Islands remain unaddressed.
On top of that, I believe the whole concept of the Solomon Cups must be reviewed so that incidents of this nature are avoided. Petty issues such as team composition, especially in relation to Honiara-based players being part of provincial teams is always a contraversal one that often results in tensions between teams therefore requires relooking.
Soccer is a sport we love and SIFF but seen to be proactive and responsible in its management of soccer affairs in Solomon Islands. Otherwise, no matter how skillful or talented our players may be, we as a nation will never proceed further from where we are now.
Better Police is not the answer
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Derick Manu'ari and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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