Professional environment key to O.F.C. Nations Cup preparation

By Thomas Airey 11 November 2018, 12:00AM

The Samoa women’s national football team have spent the last week in camp ahead of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup.

They fly out on Tuesday for the World Cup and Olympic qualifying tournament which is hosted in New Caledonia.

The players have been staying together this week at Football Federation of Samoa’s (F.F.S.) Tuanaimato complex.

Coach Nicola Demaine said that’s been key for the professional environment they are creating.

“If we do the right things off the field, we can do the right things on it.”

She said the buy in from the players has been great.

“These girls are awesome, they’re all proud to represent their country, that’s a driving force behind their motivation.”

F.F.S. technical director Valerio Racugglia said they’ve encouraged the players to stay up late.

“We need to sleep longer in the mornings to be on New Caledonia time.

Between two trainings a day, specially planned meals, physio time and video analysis, a few of the players have had to work around their school exams.

“We go from age 16-34 so it’s a wide range”, Racugglia said.

He said there’s a real togetherness in the group.

“We’re still working on culture but I think it’s strong.

“We give them chores to do, simple things like that, and they set their own values and rules.”

Racugglia said fitness has been a main focus on the camp.

“The conditions will be tough and test our physicality.

“We get there four days early, so we’ll have a bit of time to train on the pitch and acclimatise.”

The team fly to New Zealand, then New Caledonia, before a long drive north to where the matches will be played.

“All that travel is a good opportunity for team bonding”, Demaine said.

Racugglia said it will be fantastic for the girls.

“If we win five games we go to the World Cup.

“We’ve passed the time where we just want to participate.”

Samoa face a tough group at the Nations Cup featuring 2015 Pacific Games Gold and Silver medallists Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.

But Demaine said football is a funny game sometimes.

“If we can execute together well, we think we’re gonna frustrate teams and surprise a few people.”

She says they want a good result at the Nations Cup, but there are other reasons to hope for good performances.

“Everything we do there will be about learning for the Pacific Games.

“Plus if one or two players can get seen, there are contracts out there now.”

She said women didn’t used to be able to play football professionally, but many leagues overseas offer that these days.

“If that one outstanding player from Samoa can make it, then you’ve got that role model that all the younger girls look up to.”

Samoa’s first game at the OFC Nations Cup will be against Papua New Guinea on the 18th of November.

By Thomas Airey 11 November 2018, 12:00AM

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