Big finish to ASHSAA Junior soccer program
The ASHSAA Junior program had a big finish on December 7 after a six-week long inaugural, development initiative between DOE’s Athletics Department and the Football Federation American Samoa.
“The ASHSAA Junior Soccer League for the 7th and 8th graders was quite successful,” said Tumua Matu’u, head of DOE’s Athletics Department. “Coaches were satisfied with the turnout and found it to be advantageous as they prepare for the upcoming ASHSAA JV and Varsity Soccer Leagues in that a good number of junior players are skilled enough to compete at the high school level.”
The program had targeted elementary aged children from grades 7-8, and the schools picked on are the ones feeding the four public high schools — Leone, Faga’itua, Samoana and Tafuna.
“The ASHSAA Junior Sports Program is aimed at skill development and the perfecting of fundamental skills,” Matu’u added. “Once the ASHSAA Junior program has been solidified, we will take development to the lower grade levels, i.e. 5th and 6th graders.”
Soccer is one of a few sports being targeted by Matu’u’s office and the sport was the first on their mind to kickoff the piloted program.
“We are finally back with DOE’s elementary schools after they stopped the very popular soccer leagues after 2008,” said FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua. “In order for us to produce top quality players in our clubs and national teams, we have to work really hard on the grassroots level and targeting elementary schools has always been one of our goals.
“Our association has been sitting patiently and we were finally awarded with that patience when Tumua first proposed this to us.”
Taumua attended a FIFA Seminar on strengthening the National League and this is one way he says FFAS can achieve of the many goals of making it stronger is to develop the grassroots level such as DOE’s elementary aged children.
On the first three Saturdays coaches had their players, 25 boys and 25 girls for each of the four high schools go through drills introducing them to the sport. On the last three Saturdays the players were exposed to a competitive environment with the teams playing in a three, round-robin format.
“They all enjoyed themselves and we cannot get enough of these programs targeting elementary school children,” said FFAS President Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet. “We just had another successful Private Elementary League and to finish off the first half of the school year we’ve completed a great development program for the public elementary schools.”
The boys were divided into two division, A & B, while the girls held one.
Samoana won the Boys A division with Michael Pereira being tabbed MVP. Tafuna finished second.
For the Boys B bracket, the Tafuna Warriors took the title while Faga’itua coach Vaimili Tyrell was named Coach of the Year for both A and B divisions. The Vikings placed second.
Ata Toapui was named MVP For the B division.
In the girls, Faga’itua topped their competition with Samoana coming in second. Olivia Ta’ase was named MVP while Jessica Tuu got the nod for girls Coach of the Year.
“For now, after piloting the program using the sport of soccer, we recognize that there are kinks that we need to smooth prior to expanding to lower grade levels,” Matu’u said. “We thank the Football Federation of American Samoa under the leadership of Faiivae Iuli Godinet and under the direction of CEO Tavita Taumua for their tremendous support.”
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