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2013-14 ASHSAA Calendar keeps ‘basic’ sports

ASDOE director for Athletics program answers some public concerns
jeff@samoanews.com

The AS Department of Education Program Director for Athletics Tumua Matuu has responded to concerns from the public about the huge funding cuts in the department’s Sports program as reported in Samoa News, Tuesday, June 5 edition. She also revealed for the first time the 2013-2014 ASHSAA Sports Calendar, which keeps the basic sports and eliminates the newer additions, such as wrestling and Futsal.
 
The first indication that the ASDOE sports program was facing major cuts was when the ASDOE Director Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau in her First 100-day Report, under the Extra-Curricular Sports sub-heading said that the funding for athletic programs has come from their yearly appropriations, which has caused budget overruns.
 
She then wrote, “This year, ASDOE leadership revised the extra-curricular sports program to streamline programs and staff. This reduced our yearly costs from $170,000 to $30,000. This redistribution in sports activities positively impacts staff time, use of buses, and use of facilities,” she added. 
 
Hunkin-Finau later told Samoa News in a brief phone interview on Monday night, “ASDOE was sponsoring a lot of sports activities and programs and it is just not affordable for us… We are also faced with various expenses to be paid out on sports program and activities, such as staff and bus drivers… So $30,000 is a lot more affordable for us.”
 
ASHSAA BOARD RESPONSE
 
In the meantime, ASHSAA president Evelyn Lili’o Satele told Samoa News that there was just “no viable option” available resulting in the changes made to the football program for the new school year and this is due to the cut in funding for Department of Education sports programs.
 
Satele, who is also principal of South Pacific Academy, said the way the new football program is set up — with two divisions — will end up being changed from year to year.
 
“I personally think it’s a good solution to the unfortunate problem — lack of funding,” said Satele, whose term as ASHSAA president ended when the 2012-2013 school year also ended. (ASHSAA is expected to meet this month to decide its new officers.)
 
Samoa News also asked Fa’asao Marist High School principal Victor Langkilde, who is a former ASHSAA president, about his reaction to the changes in the football program. His school is particularly affected because of the changes introduced for Junior Varsity football teams — less than a 500 student enrollment, does not allow for a JV team to be fielded.
 
Langkilde said that football has dominated the school sports scene for years and continues to do so. However, he noted, “Over the years, an alarming amount of money has been put into the football program that takes away from the other sports. Our people and youth need to understand that football is not the only sport that provides opportunities as well with scholarships.”
 
“As for our school being designated to a division along with no JV Football program, it may have an impact with our student enrollment because some parents and students use football to decide where to attend school,” Langkilde said.
 
He also pointed out that the new format would not give them “the opportunity to play the bigger schools next year and that usually helps our team and student-athletes improve.”
 
Regarding budget cuts to ASDOE’s sports program, Langkilde said, “It is very sad, and has somewhat been a battle throughout the many years at ASHSAA.”
 
“I have fought for years in ASHSAA through its lead agency ASDOE for issues ranging from pay for private school coaches to the importance of equal treatment of all sports to no luck. Now ASHSAA through ASDOE has made the drastic cut in budget for the sports program for the new school year,” he said.
 
He said ASDOE/ASHSAA sports help with many things, like student scholarships, healthy living habits to prevent non-communicable diseases and provide sports development with identification, which also feeds the American Samoa National Sports Program (ASNOC).
 
“The importance of sports through the extra-curricular side of education also shapes the character side of a student that may not be provided in the classroom like discipline, teamwork, and the other tangibles that help an individual grow,” he added.
 
PUBLIC CONCERNS
 
One of the major concerns raised, according to the ASDOE Athletic program director Matuu, is the fact that there will be fewer games played and no TV coverage, which would bring less exposure for the athletes and less of a chance of getting a scholarship.
 
Matu’u said, via email to Samoa News, “This year alone KVZK filmed only 7 of the 33 Varsity football games. The good head coaches will ensure that their team films games for recruiting purposes. To name the few that I know of that do this are Fa’asao Marist, Tafuna and Faga’itua. They understand that the responsibility of recruiting lies primarily on the school itself, ultimately the head coach. A team filming their own games is not a new phenomenon. It is standard procedure for both recruiting and scouting purposes at the least.”
 
Another concern voiced, was if ASHSAA is worried about the cost of the lights being used at the stadium, “Why not just play day games?”
 
The program director of ASDOE sports, replied, “With school getting out at 3:00 p.m., the soonest we can start a game is 4:00 p.m., if we are lucky. Drivers are mandated to their normal curriculum related routes. (i.e. picking up kids after school programs). Only until after theses routes, may they run extra curricular routes such as getting teams to their ASHSAA competition. Curriculum trumps extra curricular. This is why the buses tend to be late picking up teams and in turn, teams tend to be late to ASHSAA competitions. So if we start at 4:00 p.m., we can end at 6:30 p.m. Lights will need to be turned on still, but only for about 30 minutes at the most.”
 
She added, “Given the number of teams in this year’s upcoming league, we will need to play at least 5 games per week. The most we can play on Saturday is 2 games due to the low number of officials available to work each game. Therefore, we would have to play 1 game on Wednesday, 1 game on Thursday, 1 game on Friday and 2 games on Saturday. This would cost us approximately $1,250 in lighting costs, with 30 minutes per day to light up.”
 
Matu’u explained, “One problem with playing games as early as Wednesday is the period of rest required for each team. A team should be given at least 4 to 5 days rest between games with ample time to practice and prep for the next game. Therefore, a team playing on Saturday may not play on Wednesday. One might say, ‘well then do not schedule them on Wednesday’. My response to that is that there are times that though possible, it will cause delays in games in that some games MAY need to be pushed back to the following week to ensure a team has ample rest between games.
 
“The disadvantage to pushing games back is that it requires additional weeks to the season keeping in mind that football season needs to end no later than the first week of December,” she said. “Moreover, holding a single game each day is not cost efficient compared to having two teams from the same school compete on the same day. Currently, we do our best to schedule both schools with a JV and Varsity teams on one day for this purpose. Sometimes, we are not able to achieve it, but we do our best.”
 
Matu’u further stated, “Other factors affecting scheduling is the number of teams to be transported on a single day to ASHSAA competitions. The most teams we can transport (due to several factors), is 8 teams. Therefore, if we have boys volleyball and softball running at the same time as football, we have to schedule accordingly so that we do not exceed the 8-team limit. It is not always easy to find bus drivers who want to work overtime for ASHSAA competitions. This is why we schedule ASHSAA games in intervals. For example, Softball (Tues, Thurs, Sat), Boys Volleyball (Mon, Wed, Fri) and Football (Thurs, Fri, Sat). This way, we can ensure that we do not exceed the 8-team maximum on teams to be transported per day.
 
“So yes, we can play only day games, but it may not be feasible and cost efficient,” the ASDOE Athletic program director noted.
 
Answering concerns about cuts in other ASHSAA sports, Matu’u acknowledged there would be cuts and gave a list of sports currently on the 2013-2014 ASHSAA Sports Calendar, including those which have been cut:
 
(FALL) Football, Boys Volleyball, Softball, Girls Volleyball
 
(WINTER) Boys Basketball, Girls Soccer, Track & Field
 
(SPRING) Girls Basketball, Boys Soccer, Baseball.
 
Sports cut out completely from the 2013-2014 ASHSAA Sports Calendar:
 
Wrestling, Rugby, Power-lifting and Futsal.
 
Samoa News notes that Futsal, which is an indoor soccer sport, has been sponsored and funded by the Federal Football of American Samoa (FFAS), not by ASDOE.
 
An official of FFAS told Samoa News they were told by ASDOE that Futsal has been eliminated from the sports calendar for the upcoming year because there are not enough teams participating in the sport. The official said, FFAS will continue with the 11-aside soccer high school league they also sponsor and fund, and will await possible future discussions with ASHSAA to reinstate the indoor sport.
 
Matu’u also reiterated in her email that National Honor Society (NHS) students will be used to offset certain positions in the officials crew (i.e. timers, statisticians and maybe some scorekeepers), but Game officials will be paid (i.e. referees, umpires, line judges).
 
About the separation of football teams into two divisions, Matu’u was asked, “Why are Samoana and Nu’uuli Voc-Tech playing to determine the team that moves up to Division I or moves down to Division II?”
 
She said, “Nu’uuli Voc-Tech finished 4th this current school year and Samoana finished 5th. What determined where the Division teams are placed for the next school year was this current school year’s standings,” and emphasized that “teams are placed according to caliber NOT enrollment.”
 
Matu’u noted, “Therefore, teams ranked 1-4 are in Division I (1 THS, 2 LHS, 3 FHS, 4 NVT) and teams ranked 5-7 are Divisions II (5 SHS, 6 FMS, 7 KFO). The #1 team in Division II (which happens to SHS) will be given a chance each school year to move up to Division I. How? By competing against the #4 from Division I (which happens to be NVT). This game will be the first regular season game for 2013-2014. The winner will compete in Division I and the loser will compete in Division II in the upcoming school year.”
 
Another question asked, according to Matu’u: “Why is Division I playing 2 rounds and Division II playing 3 rounds?”
 
She answered, “To allow for Division II to play an ample number of games, they need to play 3 rounds. This will allow for each team to play 6 games as opposed to only 4 games in the season.”
 
The Athletic program director also addressed the concern about teams not playing enough games in the season — given that only 6 are scheduled per team.
 
According to Matu’u, “In Hawaii, some teams play only 6 games during the regular season, but they also play 2 preseason games, giving them 8 games to compete in for the entire year. Only the better teams that move on to the playoffs will play more games. Therefore, 6 games is not too far off from sufficient.
 
“But to pacify those who want more than six games played per team, a preseason schedule is in the works and will be presented to ASHSAA for approval,” she said. “The preseason schedule will allow for each team (Junior Varsity/Varsity) to play 2 games prior to the start of the regular season’s games.”
 
Matu’u emphasized, “These preseason games will NOT count towards the determination of the league’s champion.”
 
Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.
 
 



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