Solomon Football > News > 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup > Naka breaking regional records

Naka breaking regional records

For the Bilikiki, this player is none other than talismanic winger, James Naka, who this year will lead Bilikiki at a record fifth FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Tahiti next week.
Just before the Bilikiki departed for Tahiti, Naka, the man who has played in every beach soccer match the Solomon Islands has taken part in and scored 52 goals over the last seven years, sat down fwith SIFF media officer Joseph Boso to talk about his experience and aspirations for the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
Can you describe how it is that you became a beach soccer player?
Like most of the beach soccer players in Solomon Islands I also played 11-a-side football which is very popular. In 2006, we had to put together a team for the regional qualifiers and selectors were confident then that I had the ability to play beach soccer well. It was all new for me then but it was also very exciting because it felt so natural to play on the sand. From there I developed a taste for the game and with the guidance of our local coaches I understood more about beach soccer.
You could have retired after the first World Cup you attended. What made you stick with the game?
After my first taste of competitive beach soccer I was hooked on the code. Like I said it is a very natural way of playing football and it allows a player to express their skills better than the other disciplines and most importantly have fun. I have more fun playing beach soccer than football because of the nature of the game; it allows you to be yourself.
What do you think about the future of beach soccer in Solomon Islands? Do you think more young players will grow up with the passion that your generation have for the discipline? Will there be another James Naka?
I think Solomon Islands will have a strong future in beach soccer, already we have some new players in the squad and that is a sign that the passion that we have will be shared by the next generation. Of course, there will be another top player that will come along, it will be good for future of the game. I am sure that there are dozens of great beach soccer players in Solomon Islands already; the only problem is for us to reach out to them and give them the opportunity to play for their country.
What is your impression of your current squad compared to others in the past? Do you think you will perform?
Looking at this squad I feel very optimistic we have experienced players and some newer players and I think this is a good balance. The experienced players give the team stability while the new ones give it youth and aggressiveness and we need these two things to work together well. We performed well in the qualifying competition so I am confident with the players and team. Of course, the final whistle will tell us the whole story but I think we have a very good side.
What do you feel about the new players in your line-up?
There is no doubt in my mind about the new players included in this squad; every one of them deserves to represent Solomon Islands because they have worked hard over the last 12 months and more importantly helped us to qualify for the world cup. My coach would have a better technical opinion of the players than me but I’ve seen them perform and they have proven themselves already.
What concerns you most about this campaign? Fitness, test matches or nerves?
I think we are ready for the world cup and that means we are ready to meet any challenge head on. We want to be fitter than our opponents so we worked in this area during our training sessions. It will be exciting and am looking forward to playing and not thinking about what might go wrong.
After missing four previous attempts to qualify for the second round of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup how does this one rate in your mind? Do you think Solomon Islands will be lucky this time?
Qualifying for round 2 is the most important focus for us at the moment. We have been to four world cups already and we want to go the next level. It will be tough but if get everything right we can achieve this; the first match is the most important test for us.
Do you feel there is a particular responsibility upon you as the most experienced and top scorer in this team?
Yes I feel that there is some pressure on myself but I think everyone shares the responsibility for the performance of this team. All I can do and what I intend to do is to play to the best of my ability in every match and ask everyone else to do the same.
Who do you think will be your toughest opponent in the competition? Why?
The opening match against the Netherlands will be the most difficult for us in my opinion. We have no idea of their strength and how they will play so it will be like going into the dark. We’ve played El Salvador and we know what to expect and we’ve also met Argentina in a friendly but with the Netherlands we have no idea. It is also the game we need to win so we will be under a lot of pressure.
Tahiti is quite familiar territory for you having played the last few OFC qualifying competitions there. Do you think there is some advantage for your team with World Cup being played there?
Personally, I was really happy to hear that Tahiti would host the 2013 Beach Soccer World Cup. It is in our region and somewhere where we have lots of experience playing beach soccer. Previously we had to travel quite long to get to competitions but now it is only a short way away and with roughly the same conditions as us. So yes there is an advantage for us and for Tahiti as well and we hope that we can utilise this as best we can when the competition kicks off.
Any final comments for fans and supporters back home?
I want to ask the whole of Solomon Islands to think of us in prayer and be united with us. We are here for the flag of our nation and we need the support of the country to help us achieve our goals.

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