Abraham Iniga Junior and Hendrix Maneoru will be at the World Cup in Russia next month despite Solomon Islands national team failure to qualify for the World’s biggest sporting event.
The two primary school students were identified by the Sports Alliances & Leadership Training (SALT) under the partnership between the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) and Football For Friends (F4F) programme.
SIFF through its ‘Just Play’ department is assisting with the processing of documents and liaising closely with the organisers.
Just Play programme manager, Maria Rarawa and Gabriel Riotarau are helping the two selected students with their preparation ahead of the trip.
F4F is an annual International Children’s social programme organized by Gazprom, an international company supporting global social projects and setting new social policy standards.
Taking place in Moscow, Russia on 8-15 June ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the aim of the programme is to promote essential values embodied by football with the younger generation such as respect for other cultures and nationalities as well as equality.
Junior Iniga a primary student at St Nicholas College will represent Solomon Islands as a player while young Maneoru will attend as a young Journalist, giving the country a chance to attend the FIFA World Cup.
“I started playing football when I was five. My dad is a national player for our country and with his help and encouragement,
“I dream that one day, I can follow my father’s footsteps. Football is about more than playing – it brings friendship, unity and peace. In football, there are no differences and titles, we are one,” Iniga said.
Florence Young Primary student Maneoru stressed, “I am pleased to be nominated for the Football for Friendship programme and to support the values of friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour,” he said.
“I believe that everyone should be given an equal chance and that people should be treated fairly so we can all live together in peace and harmony and make the world a better place”.
Junior Iniga is the son of former national rep Abraham Iniga who recently represented Marist FC in the OFC Champions League.
A total of 32 International Teams of Friendship will compete at the Football for Friendship World Championship on 12 June 2018.
In the days leading up to the tournament, each player will be trained by Young Coaches who are football players ranging between 14 and 16 years, from various countries.
The Championship and training sessions will form the majority of the programme in addition to the International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum.
The forum will see participants discussing how to promote the programme’s core values of friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour. At the end of the programme all F4F participants will attend the opening match of the FIFA World Cup on 14 June 2018 as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Additionally, more than 5,000 media outlets worldwide will cover the programme, which is considered a unique educational project by the United Nations.
The Football for Friendship International Children’s Press centre, consisting of 12-year-old journalists from the 211 countries and regions, will tell their own F4F stories that will be beamed around the world.
Meanwhile, two adults will be accompanying the selected students when they leave for Russia early next month.