The Solomon Islands’ international Micah Lea’alafa recently spoke to Front Page Football about his move to Australian football; the Bonitos captain is now playing in NPL South Australia’s side FK Beograd, under the coaching of former Vanuatu Football Federation technical director and advisor Joshua Smith. Lea’alafa spoke highly of Smith, who is just two years older than him, describing him as a good coach who pushes the team every training session and wants them to have a good game every week. The winger is eager to help Smith achieve his goals and contribute to the team’s success. “It is my first time playing under him (Josh Smith) and my first time playing under a young coach; he is just two years older than me! He is a good coach, pushes us every training session, and wants us to have a good game every week. I want to help him achieve his goals, and that is why I came,” Lea’alafa told FPF.
Lea’alafa had previously helped Wynnum Wolves gain promotion from the Football Queensland Premier League 2 to FQPL1, and the club was keen to re-sign him. However, after receiving a call from Smith, whom he had known since he was 16, he decided to embark on a new adventure in South Australia.
Since joining the team, Lea’alafa has been slowly integrated into the starting lineup and has already shown his value, scoring two crucial goals in 2023. He scored a tap-in against Croydon FC and a goal-of-the-season contender in a win against defending champions Adelaide City. As a senior international player, Lea’alafa is aware of the expectations placed on him and is relieved to have found the back of the net to help his team pick up points.
Smith was also responsible for bringing more Pacific Islands footballers to Australia, being one of them the now Central Coast Mariners star defender Brian Kaltak. Lea’alafa understands the hardships faced by footballers from the Pacific Islands in their quest to become professionals. He had to return home after an injury while playing for South African side Maritzburg United in 2019, leading to a release from his contract in early 2020 and keeping him on the sidelines. However, he doesn’t take the privilege of playing football in Australia for granted and feels he is carrying the flag for Solomon Islands’ football community in Australia. “For us (Pacific Island footballers), it’s hard to get a visa and to play in Australia, it’s difficult. We just want to thank Josh (Smith) for this; that guy loves [Pacific] Island players. It is because of him that we came to Australia, and Brian (Kaltak) is in the A-League,” Lea’alafa said.
Smith and Lea’alafa’s Beograd is currently sitting 4th in the process in South Australia’s top-tier league and the former Auckland City man is proving to be influential for the good run his is currently enjoying.