Solomon Islands is living up to its reputation as a football-mad nation with sell-out crowds and strong support from the official partners of the OFC Nations Cup.ANZ, Solomon Airlines, Solomon Breweries Ltd (Solbrew) and Solomon Blue Taiyo are onboard as official partners of the event and were all at Lawson Tama Stadium yesterday to witness the Bonitos get off to a winning start.
A capacity crowd of 15,000 cheered on Solomon Islands to a 1-0 victory over Papua New Guinea while thousands more enjoyed the day two action, which also featured New Zealand and Fiji, via live broadcast across the region.
OFC Event Manager Seamus Marten says the extensive coverage of the tournament was a one of the major factors in attracting local companies to get involved.
"With live television broadcasts in Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu and further afield in Asia, this tournament represents a unique opportunity for our official partners to gain exposure," said Marten.
"The partnership OFC has developed with each company is crucial to the success of the tournament and we are hugely grateful for the support."
ANZ Solomon Islands were the first to sign on as an official partner, with CEO Barry Sowman saying the company was eager to get behind the event.
"ANZ is proud to be the official bank of the OFC Nations Cup and we look forward to a great event," said Sowman. "It was an easy decision for us to get onboard because we want to play our part in making this milestone event a memorable one for all involved."
Solomon Airlines meanwhile have shown their longstanding support for football by becoming an official partner.
"Solomon Airlines has seen the excellent co-operation with OFC specifically, but we also value our partnership agreement with Solomon Islands Football Federation and will continue to support football into the future," said a spokesperson.
"The OFC Nations Cup is a time to be a proud Solomon Islander and the event calls for support of the whole country."
Solbrew General Manager Andy Hewson also emphasised the importance of getting behind the tourmanent.
"We are delighted to be the 'Official Beverage Partner' of the OFC Nations Cup," said Hewson.
"Solbrew hopes to do our part for Solomon Islands and showcase 'Solomon Islands Very Own' to the Pacific as we look to expand the footprint of Solbrew in the region."
"We will look to continue the strong relationship with OFC and hope that Solomon Islands can host more international football events in the future."
The fourth official partner is Solomon Blue Taiyo, a major supplier of canned tuna, who have provided various products as part of a value-in-kind agreement.
In addition, SIFF partners Our Telekom and DJ Graphics have been utilised as event partners for the Nations Cup while organisers of the Festival of Pacific Arts, set to take place in Honiara in July, have also worked closely with OFC and the Local Organising Committee.