SO Solomon Islands is clearly the best football nation in Oceania.
That’s according to Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) president William Lai.
He stated this in an interview with Radio Australia this week.
Mr Lai’s description of Solomon Islands as a “football nation” was based on crowd attendance of regional matches at Lawson Tama.
For instance, crowds of up to 12,000 and more have turned up at Lawson Tama to watch the OFC Champions League group-stage matches last week.
This is compared to as little as just 50 people showing up to watch the matches played at Trusts Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
Of the other two hosts, Vanuatu fared quite better with crowds of around 1,000 up to 4,000 fans, while the largest crowd to watch the Tahiti games according to OFC attendance figures was 1,507.
Mr Lai says Solomon Islands is good for Oceania football because when teams from the region come to Honiara, they would play before thousands of enthusiastic fans who would make the visiting teams feel their game is appreciated.
He says the OFC should therefore let Solomon Islands host more regional soccer tournaments instead of teams playing in empty stadiums.
Mr Lai is absolutely right.
But before he brings more OFC matches to Lawson Tama, we need to rebuild the national stadium.
It’s a shame really that our national soccer stadium, Lawson Tama, remains in the same old state as it were 20 years ago.
While everything else is moving forward, Lawson Tama has not.
It was the same old Lawson Tama many of you would have seen and known in your teens.
Our soccer has gone through some stages of development, but Lawson Tama remained as it were.
Why do we neglect Lawson Tama?
Isn’t Lawson Tama our national stadium?
If it is so, why don’t we commit to building it into something we can all take pride in?
Our Pacific neighbours are far well ahead in developing their national sports stadiums, while we continue to make do with our old rugged Lawson Tama.
If Mr Lai wants to see the crowd attendance at Lawson rise to 30,000, he needs to take the lead to rebuild the stadium.
It is undisputed that we are a soccer-loving nation.
More people would want to attend soccer matches at Lawson. But they are unable to do so due to the current state of the stadium.
We may be a leading football nation in Oceania.
But what difference does this bring if Lawson Tama remained in its current state?