Henry's here to help
Henry Fa'arodo's footballing journey has taken him all over New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, but he still regards time spent in Nelson as a youngster as crucial in making him the player he is today.
Fa'arodo, captain of the Solomon Islands football team, current ASB Premiership player and former A-League striker, spent two years at Nelson College on a football scholarship, playing for the First XI and for Nelson Suburbs before embarking on his professional career.
Now he is returning to the region to help start the next stage of his career, helping younger players make the most of their ability.
He has been contracted to work as FC Nelson's junior technical adviser for 2012, as well as turn out for their top team in the Nelson first division competition.
Fa'arodo is spending the weekend in Nelson, attending the club's open day at Trafalgar Park today and playing in their pre-season match against a Blenheim Valley development team.
He will return to the capital to continue playing for Team Wellington in the national league, joining up with FC Nelson once those commitments are finished.
While he still thinks he has a good five years left in him on the pitch, he is keen to start developing his coaching skills, having earned a youth coaching licence while playing in Australia.
"I love working with kids, it's something I want to do. I want to see kids improve, they chose to play the sport and I want them to get the most out of it. I want to see young kids achieving their dreams."
Fa'arodo spent year 11 and 12 at Nelson College, before spending over a decade playing in NZ, Australia and the Pacific.
He has played for Team Wellington, Canterbury United and Auckland City here, in the A-League for the Perth Glory, the old National Soccer League with the Melbourne Knights, and in the Victorian Premier League.
He was a member of the first ever Island club to win the Oceania Champions League – Papua New Guinea's Hekari United – and play in the quarterfinal qualifier at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
"It was a great experience, it was awesome being the first Pacific Island team to make it to the world stage. It was a great achievement, not just for us but all the Island countries."
He also played alongside Dutch star Edgar Davids in the Oceania All Stars team that faced David Beckham's LA Galaxy team in Auckland in 2008.
Nelson football has a strong connection with the Solomon Islands, with a number of players coming to the region to study and play football, and the engaging 29-year-old said time spent here was hugely beneficial for them, both as footballers and people.
"It's good for soccer in the Solomons, it's better to bring them out here than just have them playing at home.
"You can see the style of play, they've changed a bit but it's a good change. They're more confident.
"Talking to some of the boys that come over, they really enjoy it. It takes them a while to get used to it but eventually they reckon it's good."
Fa'arodo will lead the Solomon Islands out in the Oceania World Cup qualifiers in June, where he is confident they will finish in the top two of their pool and move to the next stage.
Being named captain was one of the proudest moments of his career, and he was excited about leading his young team in the qualifiers.
"It is a big responsibility but I am enjoying it at the same time.
"For me, it was something I was dreaming of, captaining the national team."
It means he will miss a couple of matches in Nelson, but he was delighted to be back and giving something back to the region.
"I enjoyed my time in Nelson – it was a good step for me coming here.
"I think it pretty much set me up for what was in front of me.
"It's nice to be back here."
The Nelson Mail