Words: ACFC Media
Monday 5 July 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC recognises Solomon Islands Language Week by remembering our heroes from the Solomon Islands through the years.
The first ever Solomon Islands Language Week lasts from Monday 5 July to Sunday 11 July and falls in the first week of this month to coincide with the 43rd year of the nation's independence celebrations.
The Solomon Islands is a complex country with over over 80 different local languages plus over 300 dialects, has six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu. It has a land area of 28,400 square kilometres and a population of 652,858 people.
Five Solomon Islands internationals wore the Navy Blue of Auckland City FC with the first two signings defender Nelson Sale and attacking midfielder Alick Maemae.
Both players arrived at Kiwitea Street from YoungHeart Manawatu and Sale also made 35 appearances for the Solomon Islands while Maemae made 19 appearances, scoring six goals.
Both joined the club in 2007-08 and were quickly followed by Henry Fa'arodo. Fa'arodo is one of the Solomon Islands most decorated footballers having played professionally for Perth Glory and Melbourne Knights.
Fa'arodo won 64 caps in a glittering international career and scored 20 goals, including four against New Zealand and one against Australia. The 39-year-old is still active in the Lotto NRFL with Franklin United.
George Suri joined Auckland City FC in 2007-08 adding steel to the Navy Blues defence. Suri scored three goals during his stint with the Navy Blues including a valuable winner in a 1-0 victory over AS Manu Ura in the OFC Champions League on 29 March 2008.
Perhaps the most fondly remembered Solomon Islands international was Micah Lea'alafa who during his spell with the club played 74 games and scored an impressive 34 goals.
Born in Yandina, Central Province, Lea'alafa arrived at Kiwitea Street in 2015 and made an immediate impression.
He played 15 times for his country and scored six goals but is unique in that he is also a Solomon Islands Futsal international.
The diminuitive forward helped Auckland City FC win the ISPS Handa Premiership and two OFC Champions Leagues and was also part of the side that won the Nike Lunar New Year Cup in Hong Kong with wins over FC Seoul and Kitchee SC in 2017.
His eye-catching performances were enough to lure interest from South Africa with Lea'alafa and Navy Blues team-mate Dan Morgan both signed on professional terms by Maritzburg United.
NEWS - Solomon Islands Language Week— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) July 6, 2021
July 5 - July 11, 2021 #NavyBlues recognise Solomon Islands Language Week & the players from the Solomon Islands to have worn our colours - find out more below
Auckland City FC has played in the Solomon Islands on five separate occasions, the first the first leg of the OFC Champions League final on 12 May 2009 when they defeated Koloale 7-2. The teams drew 2-2 in the return leg at Kiwitea Street, a result that saw the Navy Blues qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009.
They next met in the 2011-12 OFC Champions League with Auckland City FC winning 4-1 and 7-3 on their way to winning the competition again. The most recent visit to the Solomon Islands came in 2019 when the Navy Blues were drawn into a group in Honiara with AS Magenta, Tupapa Maraerenga and the Solomon Warriors, winning the group and qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Central United FC, Auckland City FC's sister club, has also maintained strong ties with the Solomon Islands with Viv Wickham, David Firisua and Paul Usumae each appearing for United in the 1990s/2000s.
Firisua also held the position of FIFA Club World Cup Project Manager for Auckland City FC for three seasons while Seamus Marten also held the role in 2020-21 season.
Other Solomon Islands footballers to make a big impression in the now defunct ISPS Handa Premiership include the late Commins Menapi, Benjamin Totori, Stanley Waita, Godwin Beubeu, Joses Nawo, Gagame Feni, Michael Fi'fii, Andrew Abba, to name but a few.
In the New Zealand club National League, Batram Suri, Gideon Omokirio, Francis Wasi also distinguished themselves.
Solomon Islands Language Week July 5 - July 11, 2021
Find out more about the Solomon Islands here.
v Bay Olympic, Sat 1 April 2023, Kiwitea Street, KO: 3pm NZST