Faamausili supporting women’s rugby from the sidelines

By Thomas Airey 02 March 2019, 12:00AM

“What I’ve been taught growing up is you always give.”

Having now finished her distinguished playing career, including four Rugby World Cup wins, former Black Ferns skipper Seiuli Fiao’o Faamausili is taking other enjoyment from rugby now in watching girls play and develop.

Along with former USA skipper Tiffany Fa’ae’e, Australia’s Liz Patu, Ireland’s Sene Naoupu and Manusina Masuisuimatamaali Pauaraisa, she’s one of five Samoan women to recently captain their nation’s rugby team.

While some of the other captains talked about the ferocity of Samoan women making them a good fit for that leadership role, Seiuli said that it’s more about their presence.

“People see us as fierce people, but if they knew us individually, they’d see us as shy, soft spoken.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Seiuli said she was always a doer on the field.

“I just say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, and how it needs to be said.”

She said much of her strength as a leader came from sharing the load with others and being a good listener.

“The [Black Ferns] girls were fantastic, we’re a family.”

“I’m excited to see over the next few years how it looks from the outside heading into the World Cup in 2021.”

Also exciting for Seiuli is the growth of professionalism in the women’s game.

She was part of the first crop of Black Ferns to sign semi-professional contracts with New Zealand Rugby in her final year of playing, 2018.

“This is something not just myself, but past players have pushed.”

“Wish it happened a lot earlier but it’s awesome.”

Seiuli said she wasn’t jealous of the current players who will be paid for a longer portion of their careers.

“The main thing is girls are getting it now.”

She disagrees with those who suggest players such as herself made great sacrifices to play high-level rugby.

“It’s a choice.”

“Having a part-time or full-time job as well creates character, pushes you even more.”

Now that she has retired from playing, Seiuli has more time to focus on her work in the New Zealand Police.

She’ll be working as a detective in the Child Protection Team for a few more months until her stint there finishes, and she will decide whether to extend or work in a different section.

“Police is a massive organisation, the more you work in different sections the more you grow, working with new people,” Seiuli said.

She also has an ambassador role with Quick Rip Rugby, which sees her travel to Samoa annually.

Born in Samoa and raised here until she moved to New Zealand aged 5, Seiuli is from the villages of Faleula, Aleisa and Fogapoa, Savai’i.

Having played at the inaugural women’s Marist International Sevens Tournament in 2018 with Auckland Samoa, Seiuli would have loved to come back for this year’s competition, but couldn’t because of work commitments and renovations to her house.

“It was gut wrenching, I wish I was over.”

“I saw a lot of posts on social media, it was very exciting to watch.”

Seiuli said she probably wouldn’t have taken the field if she had come, that it was more about sharing knowledge.

“There’s a lot of good players out there, in New Zealand and in Samoa.”

“I wouldn’t have played this long if i wasn’t so passionate about getting girls opportunities.”

“I love seeing girls playing rugby, giving it a go.”

Seiuli got her start in rugby in a one-off game at the age of 15, before joining the Auckland Marist club two years later.

She tried all sports at school, and says they helped her keep up her education which she may have neglected otherwise.

“It kept me busy, out of trouble but I didn’t have goals.”

“I never really chose rugby, just fell in love with it.”

Seiuli was first selected to play for the Black Ferns in 2002, and feels she was winning both ways by representing New Zealand as a Samoan.

“Women’s rugby in Samoa wasn’t really strong.”

“I went along with the Black Ferns, the only girls I really saw play.”

She said the Black Ferns still presents the more stable platform for up-and-coming Samoan New Zealanders, with professionalism and more fixtures each year.

“You’ve gotta think about your future.”

But despite all the opportunities New Zealand has provided her, Seiuli feels blessed to have grown up with strong links to her Samoan heritage.

“There are a lot of morals you’re taught when young, having a strong family base and respecting your elders.”

“Family is all about togetherness, moving forward together.”

She said the Samoan culture has been a big part of her successes on and off the field.

“It’s exactly the same as rugby, together moving forward.”

By Thomas Airey 02 March 2019, 12:00AM

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