Young Solomon Islanders have been given the privilege to further their education whilst pursuing their passion in football.Among the selection are four form one students who are part of the new 'Learn and Play' program, supported by the Solomon Islands Football (SIFF) and funded by Football International Federation Association(FIFA).
Mary Malpon, Losa John, Augustine Bonie and Martin Bolika are four students from Temotu Province who are privileged to be chosen by the Learn and Play program to attend Aligegeo, one of the schools that accommodate students in Honiara for the program.
Speaking to Solomon Times, Football Association Development Sports officer, Noel Wagapu, said that the Learn and Play program was initiated by SIFF to cater for grade six students who have good grades but don't have any space to go for further studies in secondary schools.
He added that they select students by sending officers from the Learn and Play Program to the provinces which are Malaita, Makira, Central Islands, Choiseul, Western Province, Renbell, Isabel, Guadalcanal and Honiara.
Mr. Wagapu added that the selection criteria includes looking at students who are unfortunate to get through to form one but who are talented in football, and also students whose parents can't afford to pay their school fees.
He said that the initiative was supported by the Ministry of Education and only three schools in Solomon Islands have agreed to take these students, which are King George Sixth School, Aligegeo and Goldie College School.
Solomon Times was informed that this year saw an intake of 120 students from different provinces around the Solomons.
"The two things that we look at are helping students to further their studies and also to train them, through the Learn and Play program to play football," Mr. Wagapu said.
He said the program is to raise unfortunate students to become good ambassadors of Solomon Islands and good football players to try and diminish criminal activities from happening in town.
Meanwhile, the four students told Solomon Times that they are really happy with what SIFF had done for them.
They said that without the initiative by SIFF, they would not have gone further in their education and also improve some skills that they have in football.
All four said that their aim in the future is to be in the national soccer squad, representing Solomon Islands and be famous like other local football players.