With the euphoria of having a star-studded Toa Samoa team playing for the first time at Apia Park disappearing, it is back to business for Rugby League Samoa as they eye future adventures.
For the man behind the machine and President of Rugby League Samoa, Tagaloa Faafouina Su’a, it’s time to reassess and push hard again.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, Tagaloa said the loss to Fiji was disappointing.
“It’s not the result that all of us wanted but it’s footy,” he said. “We’re still happy with the boy’s performance and their attempts and effort they put in.”
But Tagaloa said this is just the beginning of the journey.
“I urge everyone, all our people, don’t lose hope. The end of one journey is the beginning of another one."
“It didn’t really end on a positive result for the team but we believe the overall celebration was a success with the support of everyone.” The celebration he is referring to was the 30th anniversary of rugby league in Samoa. Tagaloa said the support was overwhelming.
“It’s very fulfilling,” he said. “We were overwhelmed by lots of people especially the ones from overseas. We had the N.R.L officials, the chairman of the Rugby League Commission, the C.E.O of the Rugby World Cup 2017, and lots of high profile officials, legends and supporters."
“My personal assessment of the supporters on the day was about 40per cent of the spectators came from overseas."
“At the jersey presentation for our team, there were lots of usual faces of the parents, families, and followers of the Toa Samoa."
“Even throughout New Zealand, Australia or wherever they came all the way to support the team.”
For players and officials, the historical match was more than just a game. It was an opportunity for the Toa Samoa to connect with their fans and community.
“It was more than just a game during the celebration; the recognition of legends, wheelchair spectator, the recognition and support towards the cancer society for all the victims of the cancer disease. The recognition of everyone who has been part of this journey, especially our government, our sponsors and everyone."
“Even throughout the whole week, the Toa boys and the Fiji Bati were involved with community engagements.”
So will Toa Samoa play at home again any time soon?
“That’s a work in progress,” Tagaloa said. “I’m pretty sure that it’s part of the strategic direction, of not only the Asia Pacific and the Rugby League International Federation to stage games of this magnitude in the Pacific and in the Asia Pacific region. For the growth of the code and growth of the game.”
Tagaloa said the New South Wales team was very impressed and they will be back.
“Fiji Bati was very impressed with the state of our facilities. The hospitality rendered by all the people of Samoa, even the training facilities at Pesega College. It was a positive feedback, the coach of Fiji Bati came back to the boys’ hotel on Sunday night just to say hello and convey their faafetai tele for the way we hosted them.
“The N.R.L plays a bigger part in this as they have a significant influence in the development of the game worldwide and the Rugby League International Federation. It was a privilege and honour to have the Chairman of Rugby League International Federation to make his time available to come and celebrate with us.”
Tagaloa said the immediate focus is on the Rugby League World Cup in 2017.
“We have the World Cup looming and also the normal Pacific Test series around May next year. It will probably be another bigger fixture with the hope that one of the Asia Pacific countries will play a Tier 1 nation during that Pacific Test.”
Lastly, Tagaloa acknowledges the support of the country from the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and sponsors to all the people of Samoa who supported the team in Samoa and from abroad.