BLUESKY BRINGS YOU AMERICAN SAMOA RUGBY ON THE WAY TO HONG KONG 7s
Tesimale Fatitaua’e is caught in a state of dilemma. He was born in American Samoa but was raised in Samoa for most of his life. The Talavalu player says he can vote in American Samoa elections and has the documents from the American Samoa Election Office to support his claim.
He traveled to Hawai’i with the Talavalu team on a Certificate of Identity from the Office of the Attorney General in 2011 to play in a tournament held in Alohaland. While there he applied for a US National passport using all his supporting documents and affidavits he brought with him. His application was denied.
When he returned to American Samoa, he re-submitted his passport application with additional documents but was again denied. “I don’t know what to do next,” Fatitaua’e says. “I’ve given the US Immigration all the documents— which includes my birth certificate that clearly states I was born in American Samoa but they still refused to grant me my birth rights to become an American Samoa national.”
Despite being picked as a Talavalu player in 2011, Fatitaua’e has not traveled to many countries outside of American Samoa other than the State of Hawai’i because he did not have the proper documents. He was born in American Samoa of parents from Samoa. His dad hailed from Safotu, while mom came from Tufulele. When he was young, his parents uplifted the whole family from here and moved to Apia with the hope of migrating to New Zealand. “That dream did not materialize and so we stayed with my mom, Saea’i’s family in Tufulele,” Fatitaua’e explains.
He has suspended his efforts to obtain a US national passport for now and has since acquired a new Independent Samoa passport. “It’s the only way for me to be able to travel with the American Samoa team. But I will not stop to seek help from other officials like Congressman Faleomavaega in my effort to get a USN passport,” Fatitaua’e explains.
He learned how to play rugby while growing up and going to school in Utuali’i primary school and later at the Nu’uausala College in Nofoali’i and Leulumoega Fou College. He was selected in the Tuamasaga Rugby Union team to play as a first five in the Samoa Rugby Union tournament that is held annually among top unions like the Apia and Apia West.
“I picked up a lot of my knowledge playing against the best players during those tournaments,” Fatitaua’e says. He also played Aussie Rule, Australia’s most popular sport when it was introduced in Apia.
Fatitaua’e wants the critics to stop saying, “e ma’imau le kaimi iga mea o lakapi” (waste time playing rugby).
“I used to hear people put down rugby with that kind of negative attitude in those days and I still hear some of them repeating it today, even in this era when the sport has turned professional. It’s insulting for us who are working hard to make a career out of it.
“Rugby has come a long way and has opened up opportunities for our generation and the next to travel and represent the territory in international competitions, play against some of the best players in the sport, and expose American Samoa to the world. Now we’re off to Hong Kong and our team needs everyone’s support.”
Fatitaua’e is a multi talented individual. He is also a soccer player, as well as a pugilist. He claims he fought at the Chinese Theater in Taufusi, Samoa for the Va’atofu O Samoa boxing club in the middleweight division. As for his record, he shrugs his shoulders when asked about it and answers with a smile, “Win some, lose some.”
When he came to American Samoa he lived in Aoloau with his uncle, Ioelu and joined the Lalomalava Rugby club. During the soccer season, Fatitaua’e played for the Black Rose team that was owned and organized by John and his wife, Sa’ili Ott.
Today, he lives with his aunt, Tofiga Lafaele in the village of Nu’uuli. He has three brothers, one of whom still lives with his mom in Tufulele and his three sisters. His dad, Seve died in 2004. He is employed at LBJ in the maintenance division and is happy to represent his Territory to international tournaments.
Fatitaua’e belongs to three denominations. When he is at Tufulele, Samoa he goes to the Methodist Church; at Aoloau he is a member of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa. He now attends his aunt’s church, the Manumalo Baptist while living with her in Nu’uuli.
He has one daughter, Eseta, who is 2 years old and stays with her mom in Tufulele.
Fatitaua’e would like to thank his uncle, Ioelu in Aoloau, aunt Tofiga, husband Lafaele and their family in Nu’uuli, his sisters and brothers in Apia and here, and his three different congregations in Tufulele, Aoloau and Nu’uuli for their prayers and support as he prepares with the Talavalu team for the Hong Kong tournament.
“I would also like to thank my maintenance crew and LBJ employees, and the Lalomalava Club for presents and best wishes extended to me and our team.
“We will do everything in our power to play for the honor of American Samoa” he vows.