Seven U-18 men and five U-18 women’s teams will participate in the inaugural tournament with the winners of each category directly qualifying for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
There is no doubt each participating country is preparing for the event.
One of the countries that so passionate about Futsal game in the Pacific Islands is Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands which has a history on Futsal and remains Oceania champions since the inception of the sport in Oceania loves to carry on the legacy set down by their National Futsal team.
Today the futsal game has inspired many youths to take part and one of the inspiring players is Elliot Ragomo.
Ragomo is now becoming a sport icon for many youths in Solomon Islands and with his recent history for making it to the professional level has motivated thousands of other young players to play futsal.
Solomon Islands sees the upcoming Youth Futsal Tournament as another chance for them to set another history by becoming the first champion at youth level and qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.
To achieve that Solomon Islands is putting together its national U-17 men’s futsal team.
The team has been in top preparation in the last few weeks under the watchful eye of Solomon Islands veteran head coach, Dickson Kadau and the former Kurukuru, Stanley Puirana.
The team which consists of many of the upcoming young talented futsal players has been silently preparing at the Multi-purpose hall.
Team chaplain, Pastor Seru is optimistic about this team and is quite happy with the organized trip for the young boys.
“At the moment we are organizing a trip to Australia for at least two weeks prior to the tournament in Auckland. We’ll be playing Dural U17, U19 and men’s sides while also in preparation there”, said Pastor Seru.
The team is expected to fly over at the end of September and is expected to spend two weeks at Dural Baptist Centre in Sydney as part of their preparation.
They will then fly to Auckland on the 1st of October and hopefully play one friendly match before the competition begin on the 4th of October.
The team is currently in its final phase of selection.
OFC Futsal and Beach Soccer Development Officer Paul Toohey said there will be an exciting time for the small-sided game.
“Many of our Member Associations have been incorporating futsal into their development programmes over the past few years and for some it is their first ever participation in international futsal competition.”
“So it’s a really great opportunity for all the young players and their coaches to display the skills they have acquired, with the added incentive of Youth Olympic Games qualification giving the teams a concrete reward to work towards,” Toohey said.
In the men’s tournament American Samoa, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have entered.
For the women’s tournament the teams are New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
OFC Competitions Director Chris Kemp said OFC is excited to have this event on the calendar for 2017.
“We have seven teams confirmed for the men’s tournament and five for the women’s so we expect some exciting, competitive matches will be on the cards over the four days of competition,” he said.
Kemp explained the match schedules cater for the different number of participating teams with the men’s a straight round robin, while the women’s is a round robin with a 3rd Place Play-off and a final.
“Given the uneven number of teams which have entered, we wanted to ensure that each of them got a maximum number of games,” he said.
The draw for the OFC Youth Futsal Tournament will be held at OFC Headquarters in Auckland on Friday 25 August.