The Solomon Islands Football Confederation (SIFF) has launched a new initiative to support women’s footballers in their off-field growth and personal development.
The PG2023 Legacy Scholarships aim to create a positive legacy through investment in the academic pursuits, as well as sporting development opportunities, for 20 footballers.
The first round of recipients was announced by SIFF President, Willie Lai, and former Solomon Islands international, Crystal Bakolo, this week with 16 of the nation’s most promising women’s footballers.
Lai said the federation wants football to impact positively on the lives of athletes, empowering them not only in sports but in their chosen academic field, with the hope that will have a flow-on effect that impacts the wider Solomon Islands society.
Funding for the scholarships was raised during a football gala at Pacific Casino, with stakeholders and partners donating more than half a million Solomon dollars.
“As you know, we have raised money for these scholarships which the federation wants to give to national team players, both male and female,” Lai said.
“We decided to start with the women’s players, also we want to empower women in our society by giving them a good education and a platform to become role models to their peers through playing football.”
One of the key focuses of the PG2023 Legacy Scholarships is to deliver an impact on the performance of teams and individuals at the Pacific Games being hosted by the Solomon Islands, with the majority of women selected in the first round expected to feature in 2023.
A stringent selection process was established to review the applications from candidates, most of whom are key national team players, or playing at the highest level domestically, with the potential to extend their education.
Haura FC player Claudia Votu, is one of the inaugural recipients and says the scholarship will be of great financial benefit to her as she undertakes her studies at the University of the South Pacific, Honiara campus.
“I am thrilled to be named among the ten senior recipients and I believe it will lessen the financial strains greatly,” she said.
“It will helps us to continue our education and help us in the future as well.”