Manu Sina 7s ready for June Olympic qualifiers
The Manu Sina 7s team are on track in their preparations for the June 19–20 repechage tournament to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Head Coach Auimatagi Sapani Pomare told the Samoa Observer on Wednesday that their training for the qualifying event is on track and they are waiting for the border to reopen so they can travel to Monaco.
He said the team will need to be in the top two in order to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic in July this year.
"It is almost four months since we started our preparations, the level and where we want this team to be at is very high, like the teams abroad,” he said in an interview.
“But for the Olympics and repechage preparations, it's been a long time since we started preparing for it.
“Right from the years where we didn't go to the Olympics until now, we have the team from Oceania so that is where we started.”
Auimatagi is confident that the current Manu Sina squad can do the job and pointed to their fitness levels, which he says has drastically improved to be competitive against foreign teams.
The team’s hurdle, in their bid to make it to the repechage qualifying final, is fellow Pacific team Papua New Guinea.
“Our target right now is Papua New Guinea, that is if we have the chance, we need to beat Papua so we can make it to the finals,” added Auimatagi.
“If we make it to finals that would be a blessing for us – as you know only the top two teams will qualify for the Olympics in July.
“That would be a dream come true for the management and our country.”
The team currently trains twice a day and they will continue while awaiting the opening of the borders for them to travel to Europe.
The temporary suspension of Auimatagi this year also threatened to derail Manu Sina’s preparations for the repechage tournament, but he said it didn’t impact the players as the women academy coach Filoi Eneliko and the trainer Orien Keil took over in his absence.
"There was no hindrance in our training plan when I was temporarily suspended, I have given Filoi, the academy coach for the women and Orien so she can carry it out.
“But that does not mean that I will sit back and relax, I come here every two weeks to check on their progress.
"That was the positive thing that I saw, the girls’ performance is well maintained especially on their skills level.
“Fitness will fall straight in if their skills are there, their skills will be used in the field so there was no hindrance at all."
The Manu Sina management team is yet to be finalised, Auimatagi indicated and he is currently working with Eneliko, Keil and Seifono Misili.
“But right now I am working together with some people like Seifono, Orien and Filoi, that's our four who are working together to put together this team for the repechage.”
Auimatagi indicated that he has also given approval for the squad members to join other teams, in order to test their match fitness levels whilst training to stay in shape.
"Since we don't have any games yet, we are allowing the ladies to go out and play in their clubs or any clubs as some unions have started their women clubs so they can go and test their contact,” he said.
“They are always training but no contact for them. We had a plan to host trials for the ladies but we don't have enough numbers.
"Majority of the women players were dropped due to family issues and some have moved abroad for better future plans.”
For those who have moved abroad, Auimatagi said they didn’t have the right to stop them from leaving.