ggressiveness, pace and an eye for goals is what Waimora is known for locally and those are the exact same qualities that won him a place at St. Kentigern College in Pakuranga, Auckland where he is studying and doing what he loves most – playing football. Waimora is on holiday here in Honiara and granted SIFF media an interview.
Ready to head back for his third year in New Zealand, Waimora was picked along with George Ladoga by St. Kentigern after impressive performances for the Solomon Islands U-17 team in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U-17 Championship in 2011. The duo have become mainstays in the St. Kentigern football team which finished fifth in the New Zealand national secondary school league in 2012.
How would you describe living in your home away from home?
Living in New Zealand is a good experience for me, it helps me to understand another culture and appreciate the diversity here. I really admire the work ethics that I see around me and I believe it is something I will take with me for life.
It is often difficult living in a foreign country for young people. What are some of the challenges you face in New Zealand?
One of the things I struggled with when I first arrived was adjusting to the educational environment in New Zealand. Studying in Honiara I used mostly pen and paper but there we had to quickly adjust to using computers – the syllabus was also a bit challenging.
The climate is very different to ours with the seasons and it gets very cold. It took some time getting used to the cold weather but I did and now I find it very difficult under the hot Honiara sun.
And of course, it was hard to be away from my family at first but I felt better as time went on. Going to church and personal praying have been vital tools for me in New Zealand. Both George (Ladoga) and I receive great support from our home-stay family in Auckland and the people are very friendly and kind to us.
You were quite the futsal star in Honiara and a key member of the Solomon Islands national futsal team development squad. Have you had a chance to play futsal at all in your two years in New Zealand?
I was fortunate to play in the Auckland men’s futsal league last year. I was spotted by accident when a team did not have enough players asked me to join them and later I was contacted by officials from the Auckland futsal league. I played only two matches last year but I look forward to playing more games when I return this year.
It seems that you are having a good time playing football in New Zealand. What do you enjoy most about football there?
There are three things that I really like about football in New Zealand. Firstly, over there I get a lot of game time because of the various competitions that we take part in throughout the year and this is a great help for my development.
Also, the technical training and discipline that we go through is excellent and it really is invaluable to have this opportunity. The care given to players here is very good – if you have an injury you are given top medical care and you are rehabilitated properly.
Another great thing about football in New Zealand is the amount of support given by parents. When we play some of our teammates will have their whole family come out to support them.
What position are you playing in your team? How do you like it?
I play as a striker but occasionally I play on the wing. We use a single striker system in our team so I also take up midfield responsibilities at times during a match. I have also played as a defender alongside George.
I really enjoy being a striker because at the end of the day it is the goals you score that make your team win and always it is a good feeling to finish with a win. So far I have done well for my team so things are good for me in my department.
After having played two seasons how would you describe the competitiveness of youth football in New Zealand? Do you think that something similar should be promoted in Solomon Islands?
The standard and competitiveness of college soccer in New Zealand is very high. This is because of the quality of facilities and training that is done in the colleges. Everything is done professionally and the coaches are of a high technical calibre so all the players are high quality across the board. The attention to detail here is nothing like I’ve experienced before and the facilities are very good.
I believe that we need something similar in Solomon Islands – we need more competitions for our youth to ensure they go through a strong development process. It is good to train but competitions add something that training cannot provide. Naturally, we have the talent that is required but that by itself is not enough so we need to work at the same level as our opponents or we will be left behind. Clubs also need to have good football excellence programs.
How many goals have you scored in the last season? How did your team perform in the last season?
In my first year I scored 21 goals in 14 matches for my team and in 2012 I managed to find the back of the net 18 times so it has been a good two years for me. I am able to score many times because our team employs speed as an effective attacking tool. However, I must say that it is getting more difficult for me to score because our opponents are now more aware of how we play.
In my first season our team, St. Kentigern, finished in third place and last year we made it to second place in the Auckland Premier college soccer league. This year the pressure will be on us to win the Auckland title. In the New Zealand college nationals competition we finished in fifth place in 2012, the same result from 2011.
We understand you have five Junior All Whites in your team. How would you describe your teammates? What have you learnt from them?
There are five players from my team in the New Zealand U-17 squad so it is always a great experience to train with them and play with them. Playing with them has made me exercise the practice of releasing passes early and so forth. They also share the same aspirations as me in wanting to play for their national team so it is enjoyable for us to work together.
I feel very privileged to play with my teammates and especially my coach, Michael Ridenton. I really like the philosophy Ridenton is employing which utilises short passes, quick movements and keeping the ball on the ground. This is quite similar to Solomon Islands football and it has made me settle in well.
What are some of the accolades you have won so far?
In 2011 I played with Three Kings Football Club U-19 in the Auckland winter league and at the end of the season I was named the striker among the top 11 players picked during the competition. The same year I was awarded the St. Kentigern Best Striker award. This year I will return to take up duties as the Head Boy of the St. Kentigern boarding house.
You are in Form 6 at St. Kentigern, what area of study are you interested in? What field of work would you like to take up in the future?
My favourite subject is geography and I hope to have a career much later on working in a related field. I am particularly interested in mapping, planning and landscaping so maybe I can find myself a career in a government department when I am done playing football.
One last question. What are some of your goals as a footballer for the future?
I want to play for the Solomon Islands national team if I have the chance in the future. The Bonitos have a lot of respect in New Zealand and in the region so it is a prestigious team to play for. I will work hard to try out for the Pacific Games in 2015. I also hope to continue in my path as a footballer when I leave school. My aim is to secure a professional contract so I can play full time – it would be a dream come true.