Many young Samoan athletes aspire to be the next rugby great like Sonny Bill Williams, Michael Jones or Jonah Lomu
But not Pele Tamaolefale.
He wants to be the next Tim Cahill for Samoa.
At 15-years-old, Tamaolefale is making history by being the first Samoan schoolboy to be selected for a football scholarship in New Zealand.
Pele will attend One Tree Hill College, where he will reside with 10 candidates from the 11 member associations around the region.
“I love soccer, and I am thankful to God for the opportunity given by F.F.S,” he tells the Weekend Observer.
“I cannot wait to learn and expose myself to the game there, as well as showing the skills I have. I believe that this is my future and I will make the most of it to become the next Tim Cahill for F.F.S.”
The scholarship is part of the Oceania Football Confederation (O.F.C) Education Centre Programme where players are nominated from around the region to study and play football in New Zealand.
Pele will determine his return and continuation of his scholarship after the first six months of his studies.
Tamaolefale’s selection wasn’t easy, but he proved to be the most qualified candidate through his excellent performance as goal keeper for the National Under 17 Football Team.
The Under 17 National team took part in the O.F.C Preliminary Tournament, which secured Samoa’s spot for the upcoming OFC Championships in Tahiti in January 2017.
He got into the sport, at the tender age of 7, when he was approached by a friend to play for the Vaivase village team.
Since then, he has never looked back. His passion for the game has grown over the years, reflected in the way he plays.
Pele excels both on the field and in the classroom.
As a schoolboy who attends Maluafou College, he is described as organized and talented and has great potential academically.
He is one of fourteen children and his idol and role model is his father.
“He is one of the most important people in my soccer career,” Pele said of his father. “He gives me the best advice. Off the field he is always telling me to do the right thing and be an honest, straight-up guy.
“And on the field: Play soccer as simply as possible. He always said one of the most complicated things you can do is to play it simple."