The Rugby Academy of Samoa’s Under 13 programme hosted their first ever international game on Tuesday.
The U13 programme is a new programme run by R.A.S and had drawn a lot of interests from the different schools all around Samoa.
On Tuesday, two teams from the R.A.S’s U13 programme played against two teams from the North Shore Rugby Club in New Zealand.
Leituala Joe Chang Ting, the Manager of R.A.S said that the North Shore Rugby Club came to Samoa for their get together with the village of Lalomanu.
“But they heard that we have an academy, so they contacted us if we could host a game between their Under 13 team and our U13 team. And that’s how this event was set up,” he told the Samoa Observer.
“We have two teams from the Rugby Academy of Samoa. There are a lot of kids under our U13 programme, but we were only able to put together two teams for this event. The kids under this programme are from all around Samoa. They are all here representing the different schools in the country.
“The main purpose is to train them well with all the different skills and system of rugby.”
Giving the aspiring young rugby players the opportunity to start playing at a very young age is the whole purpose of the programme.
“Under this programme they are learning about the system of rugby, the different patterns and techniques and the managed programmes we have nowadays.
“This is also the age group targeted by overseas clubs,” he added.
“These games help to build up the confident of the players, so that when they grow up, everything will be easy for them. Confidence and self-esteem is one vital issue that these games cover. And we are looking at having our own games next week to develop the talents of our young kids.”
Said Leituala, it took them two months to prepare for the game with North Shore.
“But in terms of trainings, we’ve been training for a month now.”
Moreover, he said that there is a huge potential in our kids in terms of rugby.
“There is a huge potential in these kids,” he said.
“You can see that they are motivated and dedicated to the trainings and playing. And this is a good thing for us. These kids will feed our U16 in the future and they feed on the elite, and those elite will feed the opportunities overseas.”
However, as this is a new programme, Leituala said that they need more time to develop their U13 programme.
“The truth is our kids can’t be compared to the players from the North Shore Club,” he said.
“We are at the early stage of our U13 programme and our kids are still learning. But the players from the North Shore Club are used to the system of rugby, and they are familiar with the rules and patterns of rugby.
But we are still happy that our children are showing a lot of interests in learning and are showing a lot of confidence on the field. As you can also see, they are enjoying their time and so as their parents. This is also an opportunity for them to learn from the players of North Shore and to improve their skills in rugby.
“We now have our own field from the Sisters and nuns here at St. Therese, we have our gym as well, and we are looking at getting more equipment to further improve on our work here with the kids that we work with.”
Sister Matalena T. Lemi, from the St. Therese Primary School was enjoying the games on Tuesday.
She said that she is happy with the initiative to have a programme for the young children.
“This is a very useful programme for our children,” she said.
“This is a learning opportunity for them. A lot of them are new to the sport and this is a chance for them to learn new skills and experience having international competition.
As witnessed today (Tuesday), a lot of them were nervous before the game but showed a lot of potential and confidence on the field. This is a great experience for them to prepare them for the future and to develop their skills in rugby.
We are happy to see that these kids are very interested in the game and I take my hat off to them for having the willingness to pursue their talents.”
Lapa’alii Solomona Puleiala, who was cheering from the side of the field for his son was also excited about the game.
“This is a great event,” he said. “I drop off my son to his trainings everyday and they’ve been training really hard. And so today, we finally get to see them play, especially playing against a team from overseas.
And we are so happy to see them execute the plan and whatever the coaches had taught them in the past few weeks. As a parent, I am very happy for this.”