Touch gives Uanita Vaaga a shot at her World Cup dream
Touch starlet Uanita Vaaga, 21, is among the open women’s squad of 16 that will contest the World Cup in Malaysia next April-May.
Vaaga will make her international debut at the tournament, and she said it’s an amazing surprise to have been chosen.
“It’s a great feeling, I’ve been trying for Sevens and haven’t had the chance to go to a World Cup with them.”
Vaaga, of Fasito’o-uta and Nofoalii, has been playing touch for three years having grown up playing sevens.
“I find it interesting, more than sevens even though I like that too,” she said
“As I’ve started to know and understand touch more I prefer it.
“I’ve learned a lot from coach Hooper, training with the girls is good but I’ve picked up new skills from him, things we hadn’t heard of before.”
Geoff Hooper is the Australian based coach of the women’s team; he sends programmes for them to work on in between trips to Samoa.
Vaaga plays middle or link for the No Idea club, captained by another member of the squad Filoi Eneliko.
“I’ve been coached by Filoi for all three years, she’s a role model for me,” said Vaaga.
“Seeing how she plays, and coaches our team and all that.
“She kinda brought me over from Sevens into touch.”
Vaaga was selected by the Manu Sina 7s to go to the Oceania Sevens tournament in November, but she turned the opportunity down having just started her job as a police officer.
“They’re really supportive, and would support anyone to go and represent the country,” she said.
“But being new in the job, they needed me to get a bit more experience before heading off.”
She said there’s a lot of balancing going on right now with work.
“It’s a lot, I’m just trying to keep up with it and make things flow.
“At first having got what I wanted in joining the police, I was thinking of giving the sport up
“But I like the game so much, so I just need to adapt.”
The touch team are lucky to have Vaaga, who was named MVP of the Touch the Crown national open tournament in May.
She also has the team record for the 40 metre sprint, running 7.99.
“I never expected it, it’s not something I was thinking about,” she said.
Vaaga and her teammates are aiming for a medal at the Pacific Games in July.
“That’s what we’re looking for, especially playing at home.
“I’d love to continue on with it as well.
“Seeing the older girls still playing, Gabs [Apelu], Filoi, they are role models for us.
“The game is just fun and interesting, I’m looking forward to playing more World Cups in future.
“It’s very special to be chosen to represent Samoa.”