“Our main purpose is to enhance the players and the development of soccer in Samoa”, stated Angela Pauga, spokeswoman of Football Federation Samoa.
The organisation successfully finished its second 7 a-side tournament in which 22 men’s teams as well as eight all-female squads from Upolu competed to win the cup. But for the federation, this tournament was much more than just a showdown between local soccer teams.
“When we introduced this sort of tournament last year, we noticed an overwhelming demand by the local teams. We knew that in other team sports, the concept of 7 a-side match is pretty popular.
We transferred this into soccer, which immediately brought us attention from interested players out in the region”, Ms Pauga explained. This high demand led the organisation to the thought that there might even be a chance to expand the tournament’s dimensions “We are thinking of expanding it to Savai’i because we’ve got some potential players there and they also have their own league, so it would be an interesting idea to transfer our concept to Savai’i as well.
The 7 a-side tournament consists of soccer teams and fields which are modified in their sense of size. With this change of the original game’s concept, the federation was able to create a new kind of soccer match that is not only unique, but also challenging for the players: “This concept is the first of its kind that we know of.
We apply it because it provides a great way for the players to master the game mentally. With less players on the field, they are forced to bring themselves more in to achieve a satisfying outcome for the match. A 7 a-side match is a fast game that requires improved physical abilities from the players”.
The competition also serves as an encouragement for the country’s youth to pick up the ball and get active: “We are aware that the young players often lack in terms of training, so we use these matches to push them and make them train”, explained Pauga.
This year’s edition of the tournament marked the beginning of the soccer season for Upolu's senior teams which include players aged 18 an over. With the semi-finals as well as the concluding final rounds on Saturday, the teams were longing for the cup.
One of them was Lupe ole Soaga Soccer Club, which was the first team on Saturday to qualify for the final match by winning the semi-final against Vaimoso Soccer Club with a goal difference of 3-2.
As the club’s head coach, Paul Valesi explained, the semi-final was by no means an easy match to win, “It was a really tough game for us, but we will be doing our best to win the final as well”.
Valesi’s team was indeed one of the tournament’s biggest favourites, as the team’s captain, Kaveti Mataipule, stated, “I am sure that we are capable of winning the cup since we won it last year as well. We trained hard for it every single day, which might now pay off for us”. At this stage of the tournament, Mr Mataipule did not yet know how right he was about the chances for his team.
The 7 a-side’s other semi-final match between the newcomers Vaiusu Soccer Club and Moaula FC turned out to be the new team’s ending station in the tournament, as they lost with 3-2 goals,“We almost won the game but we earned some cards because of a certain carelessness of our players on the field, so we might have to work on the team’s sense for discipline a bit. But we lost to one of the most experienced teams in the tournament, so I think we can be proud of our achievement this time”, the team’s coach Lematua Peti Isaia explained.
After a hot morning full of goals, fouls and many scoring chances, the tournament’s winners stayed the same as last time: With 6:3 goals in the final match against Moaula FC, Lupe ole Soaga could successfully defend their title in the Football Federation’s second 7 a-side tournament.