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Friday, March 16, 2007

Solomon Islands withdraw from oceania U17 soccer championship due to airfare hike to Tahiti

The Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) has withdrawn from the OFC U17 Championship - Tahiti 2007 today. The decision to withdraw was announced at lunchtime today despite SIFF securing a sponsorship deal with Solomon Telekom worth SBD$1.4 million.

SIFF General Secretary Eddie Ngava said the decision to withdraw was a heartbreaking one but his federation was left with no choice following a recent hike in the price of airfares between Solomon Islands and Tahiti.

"This decision was not taken lightly and I realise many people will be wondering why we have had to withdraw around the same time we have announced the Solomon Telekom deal.

When we planned our budget for this year we submitted it to the Solomon Islands Government and Solomon Telekom taking into account the price of airfare at that particular time.

Solomon Telekom have committed to assisting our senior men's team at the South Pacific Games/World Cup qualifiers and to supporting our two domestic competitions.

The cost of attending the OFC U17 Championship - Tahiti 2007 falls outside the terms of the Solomon Telekom agreement," Ngava said.

Solomon Islands U17 team will be sorely missed at the tournament with players such as Tony Otini, Lenson Bisili and Victor Fenehia all missing out on the chance to showcase their talents.

"I will be holding a meeting with the squad this afternoon to break the bad news. They are currently in training camp and the sad aspect is they are a very strong group of players. Fortunately Tony Otini and Lenson Bisili have had experience at the OFC U20 Championship - New Zealand 2007...for the others, sadly, they will have to wait for their chance," Ngava said.

The Solomon Island budget for travel to Tahiti was set at SBD$300,000 at the start of the financial year but according to Ngava had now escalated to just over SBD$642,000, a figure SIFF simply could not afford.

Source: OFC

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