Solomon Islands’ head coach Vega-Arango gives strong statement: “No tolerance with addictions”

Unfortunately, it is still common in Oceania to come accross cases of football players involved in polemics around addictions; such as alcohol, drugs and different types of hallucinogen substances.

Felipe Vega-Arango, the Spanish head coach of Solomon Islands national team, gave a strong statement to local media about the culture of acceptance that is under these circumstances: “You will notice that professional players from New Zealand, Spain and Brazil don’t smoke and drink every day, and if we want to reach their level, we must also make sure we do the right thing and we have to go that way as well“, said the coach to Sun Sport.

I talk to my players that we are human beings and if one-day the players have a really tough match at Lawson Tama and later the evening they want to have a beer; it’s up to them because nothing I can do about that. But the problem is the addiction,” said Vega-Arango – “I want the players to wake up in the morning and think about football and not smoking. I want the boys to wake up early in the morning and think about their next training session and requirements“, he added.

Vega-Arango (middle) during training session last month in Fiji with Solomon Islands national team – Reinal Chand

The Spaniard mentioned all these aspects will be taken as crucial ones to make the next selections for the national team: “But to me, the boys are positive and I don’t know maybe they are lying to me but I believe 99% of players of the national team are taking care of themselves. Like I say, maybe they drink one beer a day but not every day“, he told to Sun Sport.

The professionalisation of football in Oceania is a must in the upcoming years; the national federations, local communities and Oceania Football Confederation have to look forward and help the development of the local football – if the players are fully commited to the game, the standart of competition will certainly improve in the region. Although, it is too much to ask for the local-based players to take football as a priority while they can not live only from their sporting activities, this open the path of addictions as mentioned by Vega-Arango, as the players are not fully focused on only their football performances.

Actions taken towards elimination addiction from the game, as the ones mentioned by the Spanish head coach, are crucial: while the full-pro environment is not there for South Pacific footballers in their countries, it is important to bring the ‘best-possible’ professional mindset to the game and experienced and well-educated coaches as Vega-Arango can help to start to change how football is taken in the region.

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