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National beach title up for grabs

Our Telekom is the major sponsor of the competition and this year it has provided a bigger budget and with it came some changes with respected to the cash prizes on offer. The winner of the Our Telekom National Beach Soccer Championships stands to take home SBD$12 000 while the second place claimer will receive $8000. The third and fourth place are allocated SBD$6000 and $4000 respectively. The total prize money including the major awards and special awards is SBD$32 500.
DC Park on Guadalcanal owned by the major sponsor of Bilikiki, the national beach soccer team, will host the event. Located just minutes from Honiara, DC Park is dubbed the home of beach soccer in Solomon Islands and is Bilikiki’s training ground for regional and international competitions including the last 4 FIFA beach soccer world cups the team took part in.
The final team to confirm their participation was Central Islands who represent the Central Islands Football Association. They join representative sides from Makira Ulawa, Malaita, Honiara, Guadalcanal and Western Province who confirmed their participation earlier. This provides for an exciting competition featuring the top beach soccer players from Solomon Islands.
Makira Ulawa is represented by 2 teams; Makira Ulawa Sharks and Makira Ulawa Eels as was the case for them in the 2010 edition of the national beach soccer championship. Makira Ulawa Sharks was their best finisher in 2010 just missing out on the third spot to Western Kikio. Talent from Makira Ulawa with respect to beach soccer is abundant and both their teams are expected to perform well this year.
The other province to have 2 teams in the championship is Honiara who is represented by Honiara East and Honiara West featuring the best beach soccer players in the capital. The Honiara West team is dominated by players from the flamboyant Beach Boys Beach Soccer Club who participated in the last local league in the capital. The Honiara East team is led by the Lord Howe duo of McPhillip Aisa and Robert Laua, both of whom have regional experience in the code with the latter already making international waves when he represented Solomon Islands in the 2009 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Guadalcanal have adopted Guadalcanal Vali as the title for their beach soccer team and they are making their debut in the national championship. Their side is banking on the experience of former national beach soccer goalkeeper, Henry Padaverana, and Gibson Hosea, who is a current member of the national team. According to Guadalcanal Football Association president, Patrick Miniti, the Guadalcanal team will consist mostly of players from the rural areas who trained under the leadership of Padaverana.
Malaita had their second team withdraw at the last minute but they are well represented by Northern United who finished second last year. This year Northern United is boosted by the inclusion of Gideon Omokirio in their line-up, making for a double family impact as his brother, Eddie Omokirio, also coaching the team.
Players taking to the sand will register in the backs of their minds that a talent identification team will be on watch throughout the championship to scout players for the next Bilikiki team. A five-man team consisting of officials from the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) technical department led by Noel Wagapu is tasked with this duty.
Wagapu says that an exciting prospect will be unfolding at DC Park when the games begin as the potential for a new James Naka showing up is high.
“With national championships rural players have the opportunity to shine on the national stage and catch our attention and I am hoping to spot some new players,” Wagapu says.
The possibility of Naka himself playing in the championship is slim. Naka is still recovering from a major operation conducted on him in June and he has not yet been given the green light for any strenuous activity.
The tournament is set to kick off on Monday.

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