In a historic and inspiring move in national football two young Polynesian talents, William Arofa from Tikopia Island and Ryan Tuhaika from Rennel & Bellona Island, are making significant strides as they join the National Men’s U19 team for the OFC Men’s U19 Championship in Samoa.

This momentous inclusion marks a pivotal point in a sport where Polynesian representation has been rare.

William and Ryan have shattered barriers, showcasing that football is a sport of inclusivity, welcoming players from all races and regions.

"I’m proud of myself and my achievement to represent the country in football," William shared. "It’s always been a dream for me, fueled by my passion for the sport. I wanted to make a change so that everyone, from all provinces and races, has that space in our national football teams. And I’m happy about it."

William’s journey began with the Henderson Eels Academy, progressing to Waneagu United before returning to the Eels last season, where he earned a spot in the Telekom S-League senior side.

With the national U19 team, his sights are set on competing at the highest level and bringing pride to his country.

"The goal of the team is to reach the final, and I’m up for it," the determined 19-year-old expressed.

Ryan, on the other hand, views football as a sport with unique benefits, contrasting with his province's emphasis on rugby as the main sport.

"I’ve already benefited from football. Coming to training and learning has allowed me to earn allowances - something that helps me and my family, so I’m staying with football," the 18-year-old explained.

"Being selected is a dream come true for me. Though I didn’t formally join an academy, my passion for playing in the community feeder roads led to joining the trials.

Ryan was encouraged by a senior coach from the Rennel & Bellona Football Association (RBFA) to join the open trials that took him to reach the final cut impressing the national head coach, Batram Suri.

Their journeys are a beacon of hope, inspiring more young players from diverse backgrounds to chase their football dreams.

As William and Ryan take to the field in Samoa, they are not only aiming for the championship final but also paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive future in Solomon Islands football.

The national youth team will kick off their campaign against Vanuatu U19 this Friday. 


Source: Solomon Islands Football Federation