The American Samoa Handball Association (ASHA) is holding daily handball clinics at the Veterans Memorial Stadium every evening, as a introduction program for the kids who want to learn the sport of handball, leading up to their summer program which kicks off next month, August 2015.
Samoa News had the chance to speak with ASHA Head Coach Carl Floor Sr., and he told Samoa News that now is the perfect time for interested youth and adults out there who want to learn the sport, to participate in their daily clinics – it's an introduction or preparatory clinic for those who are curious and interested in participating.
"As of right now, what we offer is to learn the game of handball everyday, from Monday to Friday 3:30p.m. here at the Veterans Memorial Stadium. It's open to all ages, girls and boys, as well as adults who are interested in coaching or officiating the game of handball – for free" said Floor.
He added, "this sport is a real athletic game, it requires a little bit of everything from basketball skills, volleyball skills, soccer skills, and even a little bit of rugby – so we're looking for athletes with those kinds of attributes and framework to play handball."
According to Floor, they have a policy that "everybody plays no matter what, and we never say no to anyone – the main thing about this sport and any other sport is to have fun."
Samoa News asked Floor how Handball made its way to American Samoa, and he replied "handball itself has been here for quite sometime, where going on two years – I brought the game here after I saw the game off-island when I went to attend my son's graduation in college."
He stated, "when I saw the game being played at the college level, I realized that this is a great sport for Samoans, because of the diversity in skills that have to be put into the game – especially with the athleticism of American Samoan children, I knew that this would be a game that they would really enjoy playing."
Coach Floor mentioned to Samoa News that Handball is an Olympic game – it supports itself financially "because some of the fundings come our way, so we don't really have to fundraise as much. We have the advantage of getting balls and goals without coming up with the funds."
Floor told Samoa News that he took the ASHA to compete in the Cook Islands last year, "and we actually beat them 31 - 19, and they have been playing handball for 17 years. So when we defeated them and lost two games by just one point against other teams who have been playing handball for over 10 years – I knew that with the athleticism of Samoan kids and the dedication my staff and myself have, we feel very confident that we can put together an Olympic team."
He added, "I know the process is not going to be overnight, so that's why when you see us playing with the age group 12-13 kids, they will be the ones that will be ready to represent American Samoa in the 2024 Olympics – we have a long term goal for this sport being in the lives of our Samoan kids."
Floor told Samoa News that the next competition ASHA is preparing for is the "2018 Youth Olympics which is going to be in two years and from there, we will determine the level and outcome of the sport here in American Samoa."
"The mission and goal of the American Samoa Handball Association is to provide opportunities for the kids of American Samoa in sports and academics – handball right now is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. and because of that, more colleges are starting to add handball into their NCAA programs."
He stated, "and there's not that many handball players in the US, so maybe we can be just like football, and have the United States look to American Samoa for their football players and handball players. Of course we would love for one of our kids to grow into the sport and play professionally in Europe and make millions of dollars but at the same time, if we can reduce the amount needed for their education to attend college and come back to the island with a degree, then to me we would be very successful."
In conclusion, Floor wanted to acknowledge and thank "all the parents that believe in our program and understand what we're doing. “The most important thing to me is the parent support – to have the kids get the support of their parents from the sidelines, it boosts their egos and encourages them to work hard because mom and dad are watching."
The American Samoa Handball Association (ASHA) led by Head Coach Carl Floor Sr. (2nd from left) posing for a Samoa News group photo at the conclusion of their handball clinic last Thursday evening at the Veterans Memorial Stadium. [photo: TG]
He also pointed to the Stadium Director, thanking Tole'afoa Henry Tavake “for allowing us to utilize the stadium for our daily clinics, thank you Henry, without you, none of this would have been possible.”