The Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) have joined forces with the Henderson Eels academy to roll out the IUMI Play Grassroots Programme later this month.
IUMI, meaning ‘our’ programme in the Bislama language, has been designed to uncover and develop U-12 talent in schools, clubs, and academies.
The programme will see the OFC Skills Challenge concept of teaching basic football skills such as juggling, running with the ball, and shooting integrated in local Football Festivals.
IUMI Play was initiated by SIFF President William Lai and will be coordinated by SIFF Grassroots and Youth Development Officer Eddie Rukumana.
The programme will be rolled out nationwide, starting in the capital city of Honiara, and Lai said it was a long time coming.
“Children deserve a comprehensive grassroots programme like this across the country,” he said.
“This is a product of collaboration and support from FIFA, OFC, our local government and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.
“IUMI Play is inclusive for all boys and girls and we are excited to launch.”
Rukumana said he was excited to be part of something that bridged the gaps in football development.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had anything like this in the Solomon Islands,” he said.
“We wanted to implement a programme that is 100 per cent dedicated to developing grassroots football.”
The Henderson Eels Football Club claimed their first title earlier this year in the Telekom S-League, the Solomon Islands’ top men’s competition.
Rukumana recently met with Henderson Eels Technical Director Christopher Asipara to get them onboard.
“We wanted to confirm if some of their players would be available throughout our programme rollout, which they will be,” Rukumana said.
“Nine coaches also accomplished their grassroots coaching certificate last month so they will help out too.
“Having them a part of this is huge and unintentionally they will inspire our young people.”