It was the calm before the storm, Superbowl kickoff was scheduled at 1.30pm and the shouting at the T.V. was to begin shortly after.
American football fans were settling in at the Sunset Bar at Taumeasina Resort Island to watch the Superbowl final between the New England Patriots and the Eagles.
Fans greeted each other politely while quietly assessing territory lines and alliances at the bar and in some cases the friendly competitive banter had already started over a few beers with some nervous laughs.
Mark Tapusoa, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, had taken the day off for the Superbowl party along with his group of friends who play fantasy football online and this year he was going for the Eagles.
“Even if we’re not in the finals, have to wear my jersey - I’m not going to wear some other teams jerseys,” he laughs.
“You see, the Eagles have never won. The Patriots have won five times over the past nine years because they are so good. This is the third final they have made, first one was 98 and the other was about 12 years ago and they never came close to winning. We want another team to win just like last year we wanted Atlanta to win.”
Decked out in his own Steelers jersey, Tony Leota has some strong words about the Patriots.
“The Eagles for sure. The Patriots’ days are over, the days of paying refs off are over,” he said.
“I’ve been here for three years, but I’m originally from California so yeah I love football. Unfortunately the Steelers didn’t make it into the finals but that’s alright. Just so long as the Eagles win and the Patriots lose, I’m all good.”
There was just one lone Patriots in the small crowd and he did seem to be the quietest patron in the bar. Tuala Pat Leota was pretty confident in his team to take out the Superbowl.
“It’s only right that we continue winning, we won in 2014 and we won last year 2017 but we won a lot in the early 2000’s,” he said. “We had about 11-12 years before we started winning again.”
Tuala believes the secret to their success is a combination of the coach and legendary Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.
“We’ve still got some of the same players, the main player, Tom Brady, he was playing in the early 2000s. He’s got this ridiculous training system and the way he lives is pretty amazing.”
Sitting next to Tuala was an actual football coach, Tupua Lefao, who has been working on developing American football in Samoa since 2014 after moving here from Berkley California.
“We’ve started a programme with St Joseph’s College. We had two games last year, we played against Tapuna High School and we just completed our season. We are having a game in Pago so our kids are now playing American football.
It’s catching on here. At the high school level, it benefits kids going into the universities in America which is basically why we’re doing. It’s another vehicle another opportunity for our kids to get scholarships to universities.”
Tupua was neutral on his pick to win.
Well I like both teams, I like the players. I am a players fan; I like to see some guys win some superbowl, New England has been there up top in the past 10 years, and they’re a great team. I’d like to see some of the new guys win their superbowl championship rings.
Interestingly enough, the famous Superbowl half time show wasn’t much of a draw card for those at the sunset bar and Justin Timberlake’s highly anticipated performance did not excite this bunch much, with most of them saying that only people who didn’t understand football looked forward to the entertainment.
However there was one exception, “Yeah I’m looking forward to the half time show,” said Danny Malala, who was proudly dressed in his Steeler’s uniform. I mean both these teams aren’t even my teams so I’m all about the half time show.”
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