Future stars of Samoan rugby are training hard for Hawai’i.
A squad of thirteen players from the Rugby Academy of Samoa (R.A.S) will represent Samoa at the Aloha World Sevens Tournament next month.
The tournament will take place in Oahu Hawaii on 22-24 of March.
Manager of R.A.S, Leituala Joe Chang Ting, said the preparations are on track.
“This is the second time we’ve been invited to participate in this tournament,” said Leituala.
“The first time we got the invitation, we didn’t go because it was expensive.”
“But they sent us another invitation for the Sevens tournament, and we thought, this would be a good opportunity for our boys to go and compete.”
The R.A.S. team will take on teams from New Zealand, Fiji and other countries.
“Those teams are also coached by some of the famous rugby stars,” said Leituala.
“Last year, the Fiji team that participated in this tournament was coached by Ben Ryan. Karl Te Nana coached the New Zealand team.”
For Samoa, the training squad has been under the supervision of, Mase Mahonri Schwalger. He is being assisted by two former Manu Samoa Sevens stars, Lolo Lui and Fautua Otto, who have joined R.A.S to share their expertise.
“We are so blessed to have them on board to help us with coaching our players, especially with the experience they have in terms of Sevens, they have been helping our players a lot.”
“Lolo is leading our Sevens programme with the help from Fautua Otto and the support from our other coaches.”
As the team they will pick will represent the whole country, Leituala said they have been working really hard to make sure they pick the right squad to do the job.
“We are aware that we will represent Samoa. And we are not taking that lightly. We’ve been preparing for this tournament for a long time.”
“All the players that we will take are the ones from school.”
Leituala added that their ultimate goal is to build up a squad not only for this tournament, but also for the Youth Commonwealth Games.
“Having Lolo and Fautua in the coaching team is a good opportunity for our players to learn more from them and the tournaments overseas can enable them to get the experience that they need to develop their skills.”
“We are grateful to these famous rugby players for putting their hand to join us.”
As part of their preparations, R.A.S. needs your help.
They will be hosting a corporate dinner to raise funds for the tournament.
The corporate dinner will be held this Saturday, 25 February at St. Joseph’s College hall.
“The local community has been supportive of our programmes and we are grateful for their ongoing support,” said Leituala.
“The numbers have increased ever since we started and we are grateful to everyone who has been with us along the way.”
Leituala also believes that the success of the academy so far is mainly because of the support of our community.
“We wouldn’t be able to come this far without the support of our community and parents.”
“We’ve sent a number of players overseas on scholarships and we are also looking at sending ten more players this year.”
“All the players that were on scholarships last year have gone back to school.”
“These scholarships are not just for rugby. They are also given the opportunity to go to school.”
“We know that education is very important and we also encourage our players that they need to be well-educated in order for them to be better rugby players.”
“And we always stress that a better person is a better rugby player. An educated person is a better rugby player.”
“And most of them are coming in terms of accepting that they need to be focused if they want to be successful.”
“So really, it is the support of the parents and the community along with our sponsors, that we are able to do all these.”
“And we hope to continue working together and we know with your support we can build a strong future for our children.”