Gershom Totori is a hot shot with a very famous Solomon Islands’ football name.
Yet the 16-year-old from Malaita is no relation to namesake Benjamin Totori who played professional football for Portland Timbers and the Wellington Phoenix.
“I am not related to Benjamin Totori but he is from Malaita Province like me, “Totori said, “I am from an island called Sikaiana.”
Gershom’s influences are not surprising; he admires Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi above all other attacking midfielders in the game today.
“My favourite player at the FIFA World Cup last year was Lionel Messi just because of his skills and talent with the ball.
“I’m a midfielder and I like to distribute the ball to my team-mates especially to the strikers so they can score goals.
“My strengths are creating chances, receiving and distributing the ball to my team-mates,” Totori said.
For a local hero, Gershom points out the achievements of one of the most consistent football exports the Solomon Islands has ever produced; Henry Fa’arodo.
Fa’arodo played in the Hyundai A-League with Perth Glory and now turns out for Team Wellington in the ASB Premiership.
Totori dreams of emulating Fa’arodo’s achievements and becoming a fulltime professional one day and he believes the OFC U-17 Championship can be a yardstick to measure his chances of fulfilling that hope.
“My favourite Solomon Islands player is Henry Fa’arodo. He is one of the most talented midfielders in our country.
“I hope to still play as a midfielder so I can improve my skills and to have a professional football career.
“But I will see how we go in this tournament. If we can achieve our team goals then I can improve the chances of building my own career,” he said.
The chances of the Solomon Islands winning the OFC U-17 Championship are difficult to quantify given their four year absence from football at this level but Totori remains positive.
“I think we can win the tournament because we have been preparing for the last six months. We came here to play and to compete so we can achieve our objectives,” Totori said.
Lining up against the Solomon Islands are co-hosts American Samoa, dark horses Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Totori believes not knowing the calibre of each opponent is useful in some ways but is aware of the threat posed by Tahiti following their build-up in the senior domestic league in their own country.
“I don’t know too much about the other teams because I haven’t seen the other teams playing but from our point of view the team with the best skills and top talent is Tahiti,” he said.