The Rugby Academy Samoa (R.A.S.) have raised $47,000 from its Fundraiser at St. Joseph’s College during the weekend to help with its preparations for Aloha World Sevens this March.
Saturday night at St. Joseph’s Hall in Alafua was the place to be as families, friends, prominent members of the community and avid rugby supporters gathered to support a great cause.
The money raised will be used to cover the travel fees, accommodation, visas and other expenses for the thirteen players preparing to head to Hawaii from the 22-24 of March.
The team will be taken by Sevens stars, Lolo Lui and Fautua Otto.
For Leituala Joe Chan Ching,who is a part of R.A.S. administrative team, the trip to the Hawaii is of utmost importance for the development of local rugby players.
“We’re trying to prep the kids to win. But we’re also trying to build bridges with the community in Hawaii as well as any clubs and schools that are interested with our boys.
“Its not just rugby. What we’re doing is also to give the boys second chance in terms of school and academics. We always believe that a person with a good academic background makes a better rugby player. We always try to encourage the kids to focus on school and get better grades so that when the opportunity comes, they get selected.”
The injection of funds have come at an ample time as players are not expected to pay out of pocket when participating in R.A.S. programs.
“Our programs are free of charge,” Leituala said. “We want kids to have access to our training sessions. For that reason we don’t want to charge or have kids pay a fee because that will definitely stop them from accessing that wealth of knowledge.”
Leituala also indicated that the left over funds will be allocated towards other activities that R.A.S hosts throughout the year.
“The next one coming up is our tag tournament for U13 and U10, around March/ April.”
“We also have activities down the line. We have some teams indicating to travel to Samoa and they asked us to for some games and get the boys connections. We also have clinics in Savai’i and in the rural areas.”
R.A.S. has now opened up a base in Saleaula to further develop the talent on the big island. R.A.S’ efforts in Savaii are now producing postivie outcomes, including the Manu Samoa Sevens newest recruit, Elisapeta Alofipo who came through R.A.S. Saleaula.
“As you see in our team going to Hawaii, half of the team is from Savaii,” Leituala said.
“That is a good indication to show that the talent is also in Savaii and not just Upolu. Also, its a good indication what we’re doing in Savaii is working in terms of having clinics and just to scout talent.”
“Also, we have an inaugural activity at the end of the year, our Peter Fat’s tournament. However, this year will be the first time we have an international tournament. Already we have teams indicting their interest to participate.”
THE TEAM: Temalu Tuala (C), Albert Onelei, Moomoo Ausage, Sile Vai Aivale, Vaafauese Apelu, Lafaele Willams, Siao Lia, Andrew Wulf, Ausane Ausane, Tamahiri Gasolo, Pio Paulo, Zoe Tasimani, Papu Wulf