The Solomon Islands Football Federation President, Martin Alufurai OBE, on Monday, addressed the members of the SIFF LEARN & play team at the SIFF Academy Conference Room as they continued their preparations for their first ever international tour.

The team is currently in camp at the SIFF Academy to prepare for the U15-U16 TVL International Tournament in Vanuatu in January next year.

Speaking to the students, Alufurai said that the LEARN & play project represents a new direction for the development of players in Solomon Islands.

"You are the first crop of what will become our new player development pathway," the President said. The SIFF President reminded the students that SIFF is investing hope and confidence in them to become the top footballers in the future.

"In the past we just selected players for our national teams from competitions and also by chance but with LEARN & play a proper development pathway is set."

The SIFF President also highlighted the other aims of the LEARN&play project to the players. He said that SIFF, through the project, is giving the students an opportunity to study as scholars but also to be trained as footballers. Alufurai added that SIFF also hopes to instill in the students the values football tries to promote.

"As has been said 'football is the school of life' and SIFF wants to ensure that you as young people learn to become responsible and productive members of society."

Alufurai said that with the LEARN & play project SIFF has defined a model for the development of elite players through schools.

"After 30 years I can see a new chapter with this model developed and I can look confidently to a bright future for football especially with the quality of players."

More students will be enrolled in the LEARN & play project next year as the project reaches its final year of funding. The LEARN & play project scholarship funds travel, fees and uniforms as well as stationeries for about 240 students in Aligegeo, Goldie College and King George the Sixth in 2009.

The project has opened a window of opportunity for the students who otherwise would have remained as dropouts and with limited options in life.Under the LEARN&play project the students also undergo full time football training.

The LEARN & play project represents the decentralization of high level football training to the grassroots using schools and will become a major part of the SIFF approach in the coming years.

"This model addresses youth level football but our program will be expanded to the primary schools," the SIFF General Secretary, Eddie Ngava said.

"Our expansion to the primary schools started this year with the Our Telekom National Kids Football, Cultural Exchange & Education Festival held in September and next year that will be upgraded with the JustPlay program," Ngava added.

Source: Press Release (SIFF Media)