FIFA World Cup 98 winner, Christian Karembeu believes Solomon Islands can reach the World Cup stage if there’s a vision and right strategies towards the sport in the country.
In a brief press conference during the 4th edition World Cup Trophy Coca Cola Tour here, Karembeu encouraged his fellow Melanesians.
“I know and witness myself that Solomon Islands has potential footballers. They have a competitive national team.
“It’s up the country’s football governing body to do more, implement programs for youths, grassroots and think about the future long term vision,” Karembeu encouraged.
The New Caledonia born witnessed Solomon Islands during the 2011 Pacific Games also in New Caledonia.
During his career Karembeu played for Nantes (1990–95), Sampdoria (1995–97), Real Madrid (1997–2000), Middlesbrough (2000–01), Olympiakos (2001–04), Servette Genève (2004–05), Bastia (2005–06).
With Real Madrid, he won the Champions League in 1998 and 2000, but remaining on the bench for the latter.
He also played for the Real Madrid Veterans against Barcelona in Qatar, on 13 November 2012.
He last played midfield for Bastia in the French Ligue 1. He announced his retirement on 13 October 2006, although he added that he would “be having a kickabout from time to time”.
“Players need to believe, I did believe.
“To become a football player its not easy, as a kid we think that it’s only how we have the ability with the ball but in the professionalism there are many aspects to learn about positioning area and movement about tactics, manage your body nutrients count also.
“When you talk about elite in football its different. I stated at the age of 17, adopt myself getting educated to be a European and think football.
“Here in the Pacific we treat football just as a hobby, a leisure because we are passionate, but we need to reorganised.
“Taking the World Cup here to the Pacific, I feel very proud because I’m from this region and for me to share this experience with the people of this region is also a dream come true because I make this road to Europe and comeback with something successful is a piece of history, prestigious one, every football fans dream about it and mostly an opportunity to the people.
“My coming here on this tour is also to boost and trying to give some messages that yes everybody can do this and is depending about your pathway your vision and what you want to achieve.
“We have the capability, we have the ability, and we have everything to be an athlete and a successful sport ambassador.
He added that the key message is to keep on the dream to reach the World stage.
“The key message is to repeat the effort, commitment and when young people want to become professional footballers they have to make sacrifices, respect the rules, the opponents, the officials and the game.
“Sacrifices are you being able to leave your family and to adopt into another culture and environment.
“Also education and getting scholarships is very important.
He hopes to inspire young footballers bringing the World Cup here.
Karembeu is a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.
Deeply involved in Peace and Sport’s activities, Karembeu visited Haiti in August 2010 with Founder and President of Peace and Sport, Joel Bouzou, to strengthen the role of sport in the country’s reconstruction efforts and attract the attention of the international community to urgent needs that prevail there.
He went to meet sports instructors and young beneficiaries of the emergency program that the Haitian Olympic Committee has set up in survivor camps.