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FFAS kicks off Women’s Soccer Festivals

Two women’s soccer festivals were held over the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, one for high school girls and the other for FFAS member clubs’ girls’ ages 9-14.


“It is one of FIFA’s missions, especially that of President Joseph S. Blatter, that women’s soccer be developed and especially at an early age through programs such as this,” explained FFAS President Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet during the opening ceremony of the high school festival on January 18. “Women are making strides in the world of soccer in all areas, from being players all the way to coaching and being administrators.


“Last year FIFA for the first time elected a female member (Lydia Nsekera of Burundi) to its executive committee,” Faiivae explained.


The high schools involved were Fa’asao-Marist, Faga’itua, Leone, Nu’uuli Voc-Tech, Kanana Fou, Samoana, South Pacific Academy and Tafuna, bringing the total number of participants on Jan. 18 to 200.


As for the clubs, close to 50 girls turned up for the festival on January 20. All the participants received uniforms made available by FIFA to FFAS for the program.


Deputy Director Philo Jennings was on hand to represent the American Samoa Department of Education and he implored the little more than 200 high school girls to use soccer as a tool to be healthy.


“This event not onLy pushes for our soccer program but it also tries to tackle one of the major issues on our island — obesity,” he pointed out. “So this program is important, not because of who is to win and who is to lose, but it is important for your health.”


Amio Mavaega-Luvu, a member of the FFAS executive committee and MC of the opening, gave the festivals objectives which are:


• Use soccer as a social tool to encourage healthy lifestyle
• Promote and develop women’s football in American Samoa          
• Increase participation / interest around soccer
• Having a girls specific soccer program
• Learn to play football in a fun, safe environment


“It is a fact that FEMALES have a high percentage of obesity in American Samoa than males,” Mavaega-Luvu explained. “So girls, this is one way to eliminate and take our gender out of this statistic by being physically active and playing soccer.”


Ursula Te’o-Martin, an exercise physiologist for ASCC’s community and Natural Resources Division, led the participants through a warm up session that included hot-hula and cardio exercises relating to sports.


The activities included hand ball matches, tug-of-war and fun games. The next high school girls festival is scheduled for next month while the clubs’ festival will have its second one this coming Saturday.