Eight ASRU clubs on board for Flag Day tournament
The 3rd and last TMO Marist American Samoa Flag Day 7s tournament will take place at the Tafuna Veterans Stadium on the 11th and 12th of April.
Eight local teams will play for the championship Cup and $10,000 first prize. They are: A’asu, Avele, Vailoa, Marist, Nu’uuli, Lauli’i, Lalomalava, and Leone. They will do battle against 15 teams from Samoa.
TMO, the tournament’s major sponsor is proud to feature profiles of the eight ASRU clubs that will take part in next week’s competition.
Today, TMO presents Marist Sports Club 7s Rugby team.
“This Is our last chance,” says Coach Chang
“For the last two years, Marist has put up a $10,000 prize money for the championship winners. Twice, our Marist team tried and failed to grab the monetary award. This year, Marist has again put up the same amount for the top team that will win the Flag Day Cup.
“This is our last chance to win it all. It will be a huge task, but a great way for Marist to leave the Flag Day tournament —with the Cup and the $10,000. Everyone knows that Marist will hand over the control of this tournament to the ASRU after this year’s competition. As coach, I want to see Marist riding into the sunset in flying colors,” Marist Sports club head coach, Jerry Chang told this correspondent.
That is a tall order to complete. The head coach may have set the standard so high for his team to reach that he and his players might stumble and fall while grasping and gasping for the top honors.
Chang just assembled his squad last week for the Flag Day competition scheduled for two days next weekend. There are many enthusiastic players who have turned up for practice at the Kanana Fou playground in Tafuna. But are two weeks enough to prepare for the biggest 7’s international tournament in the Territory?
“No, that’s very little time to get ready and formulate game plans,” coach Chang explains his frustrations. “But I can’t force the players to come out of their comfort zones and commit two months to training for the Flag Day tournament. We’ll do whatever we can at this time and hope that our three representatives in the Talavalu team will help boost our preparations.”
Pentateuch Vaki, Kamilo Soi, and Lome Atonio return this week from their historic trip to Hong Kong and will no doubt share their experiences with the Marist team that is definitely short of energy but high on hope.
This year being the last for Marist’s Sports Club to host the tournament, the ASRU is allowing every club to import guest players. Chang anticipates the inclusion of some players from their popular Apia Marist Sports Cub brothers to play in his team.
“Apia Marist is bringing two teams to the Flag Day tournament and I would like to have some of their reserves play in my team.”
Chang has been coaching for five years and had a lot of help from Talavalu’s national coach, Leota Setefano Fata in the last two years.
“Leota can’t assist in our preparations anymore as he is now American Samoa’s coach,” Marist’s coach explains. Chang had a brief time spent as head coach of the American Samoa 7’s squad when he took the Talavalu to Apia for the Oceania competition several years ago. Fa’aola Tane Nixon, who has a son in the Marist squad, assists Chang.
The head coach and his wife, Vaimoana Unufe Chang live in Faleniu. They were married in 1991 in the Baha’i Faith and have three children. Chang works at Cost U Less as a Pepsi salesman.
Chang says he is sad that his Marist club will not be hosting the Flag Day tournament after this year. “What I want to see is for the ASRU to maintain the professional standard that the tournament has reached under Marist’s control. For the past two years, rugby has grown in leaps and bounds because of the experience gained by the local players through their exposure to our international competition.
“Now the road to Hong Kong is wide open for American Samoa and I guarantee more opportunities will be available as players improve on their skills. This is one of the best achievements in the history of ASRU. And as a coach, I am very proud that Marist cleared and paved the road to international competitions for future generations. Marist will leave a legacy that I sincerely hope the ASRU will continue to uphold and to maintain the professional level that we have set.”
Chang also advises the young players to perform well and avoid unsportsmanlike conduct. “That’s in the past. I tell you now, you will never advance in your rugby career with that kind of attitude. I always say to my players that they are representing the famous and well-known international name of Marist when they go out on the field. They must set an example for others to follow”.
Chang would like to wish all teams an enjoyable tournament.
He also sends best regards from the Marist Sports Club to all their supporters and invites them to come and witness high quality rugby that will be displayed at the Veterans Stadium on April 11- 12.