Pago Rugby Coach says, “Thank You Samoana High”

Flanking the Pago Pago Aeto Rugby Club sevens team are assistant coach, Filipo Palelei (left) and head coach Eddie Manuma (right) [photo: FV]

Samoa News Sports is pleased to feature nine local teams that have been invited to play in the TMO Marist Pago International Seven A Side tournament, scheduled for the 13 and 14 of April. The clubs are: Utusi’a East Side Knights, Lauli’i Moli Ole Ava, Aeto Pago, Fagatogo Blues, Lalomalava, Avele, Marist Pago, Leone, and Taputimu. This coverage is made possible through the sponsorship of TMO and host club, Marist Pago.

Pago Aeto Rugby Club

The Pago Pago Aeto Rugby Club was left stranded in the middle of nowhere as head coach, Eddie Manuma and his assistant, Filipo Palelei faced a big problem.

“For the past three weeks we did not know where to train as the field we usually use in Pago has been taken up by our village cricket team for practice. The women’s cricket league also uses the field for its competition every week. We were cast out of our own malae,” the disappointed coach, Eddie Manuma tells this correspondent.

The TMO Marist Pago International Sevens competition is just around the corner — nine days to be exact — and Manuma was worried his squad would not be ready in time for the competition.

“I made some hasty phone calls and we were lucky to be allowed to use the Samoana High School field in Utulei to train. I would like to thank the principal and faculty of the Samoana Sharks and the Department of Education for letting us use the field. We appreciate their help very much,” coach Manuma says.

DOE’s educational specialist, Li’a Amisone, a former Aeto rugby player and rower for Pago Pago’s famous fautasi explains he received an SOS call from his village’s rugby supporters to help in securing the Samoana High School field for the Pago Aeto rugby team to train and prepare for the upcoming international sevens.

“We talked it over with the high school officials and they agreed to permit the Aeto team to use the Sharks malae,” Amisone, who is also a great tennis player explains.

Manuma tells this correspondent that they started preparations for next week’s tournament last Thursday when they received the okay to use the Samoana High School field in Utulei.

Despite the short time the team was put together, Manuma believes his players are fit and their skills are at a high level. “Most of those in our squad are made up of soccer players that just returned from New Zealand with the FIFA team that competed in an Oceania tournament (held in Taupo) recently.

“Others are in the Aeto fautasi crew. They are fit and have been playing together for a long time. They know their play and combinations. We just have to polish up on their ball skills and other basics but overall they are experienced enough to overcome the temporary set back in our preparations.”

The 38-year old coach is a native of Pago Pago. He played for his village rugby team and rowed for Pago Pago’s Aeto fautasi. He and others involved in the rugby team are members of the committee overseeing the day-to-day affairs of the fautasi and crew. “The leader of the Pago aumaga, Uta i Fea’u Lefiu Billy Kalasa was kind enough to excuse us from the committee to prepare our team for the tournament.”

Manuma says five of his players are in the Aeto crew. “They are tied up with their preparations for the Flag Day race but will be available when we play in the tournament next week.”

The Pago head coach finalized his 12-man squad on Tuesday and has forwarded his team list to the Marist Pago club that is hosting the TMO international seven a-side two day competition on the 13 and 14 of April.

Some of those in training are: Grey, Rudy, Tyrone, Ilao Jr., Sio, Ace, Daru, Elvis, Uiti and Dave Collins, and Pepa Jr.. “We’re concentrating on fitness and ball handling. The players have been playing the game for a long time and they know what to expect from these types of international competition. We took our team to Hawai’i and Samoa to play in tournaments held there and we did very well,” Manuma comments.

In the Teuila Festival sevens tournament held in Apia last year, the Manuma led Pago team won the Bowl competition. “To win in Apia against some of Samoa’s top teams was a very high accomplishment for the Pago Aeto Rugby club. We were happy about that,” head coach Manuma says.

“The Pago Aeto motto is play with a big heart. We have the stamina, the will, and dedication to make a successful run against the professional players that we expect to meet during the tournament,” Manuma adds.

The head coach wishes to thank the Samoana High School and DOE officials again for the use of the Sharks field to prepare the Aeto rugby team for tournament that starts next week. Manuma would also like to thank Marist Pago for organizing the international event that he says will help in the development of rugby in American Samoa.

The two coaches, Manuma and Palelei and the Pago Aeto team wish to convey their heartfelt gratitude to the leader of their village, Ma’oputasi Tasi Asuega, the village council of matai, the leader of the aumaga, Lefiu and all the supporters and sponsors for their prayers and donations offered for the success of the team in next week’s international seven’s competition.

“We promise that we will do everything we can to take this team to the top.  We thank you sincerely for the support you’ve shown,” Manuma concludes.


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