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2016-17 ASHSAA football season Opening Ceremony emphasizes Academics

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga during his special remarks at the 2016-17 ASHSAA Football Season opening ceremony held at the Veterans Memorial Stadium this past Saturday morning. The governor spoke of the violence in past seasons, saying as it says in the Bible, winning is not important, it’s something you focus on to improve as a competitor. [photo: TG]
“Football isn’t just about one thing,” says governor

The American Samoa High School Athletic Association (ASHSAA) opened their 2016-17 Football Season with an official ceremony that took place at the Veterans Memorial Stadium last Saturday morning. Master of ceremonies, ASHSAA President Tupa'i Rod Atafua welcomed the teams, players, coaches, and guests in attendance.

Co-Acting director Philo Jennings offered opening remarks, in which he emphasized academics to the players — that, “they need to work as good in the classroom, as they do on the field.”

Welcoming “all the players, coaches, teachers, and everyone present here today in support of this new school year,” Jennings said, “Let's make this season a good season — although it might be physical, but physical in a clean sense of the word.

He said, “In reality, if your grades are good, you’re more vulnerable to being a selection for the collegiate level – but if your not as good as you are on the field in the classroom, you'll have a hard time getting into college to play football.

“Your academics and your athleticism go hand in hand – that's what you call a student athlete. Focus on school first before football, and focus on your future, and what lies ahead for you within the sport.”

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his special remarks echoed Jennings, saying, “Football isn't just about one thing. We have come a long way to where we are today — the days of using muscle and strength [only] in football are over.

“Today, in order for you to win, you need to be smart, skilled, strong, and courageous to be a complete football player, especially with where the level of the sport is today.

“So football, is about your total person — you can't be a complete player if you don't have these — that's the challenge that you should all take with you to make it through this system.”

The governor told the players that the requirements to being a complete student athlete is already within them, "a blessing that God has given you already – your teacher’s job is to bring it out of you. But the success of it all, depends solely on you, the student athlete.”

He further reminded the players and coaches, "Football requires a teamwork effort, it isn't an individual sport. That's the life we live in this world today — you need teamwork in order for you survive and succeed in life.

“Life is just like the game, everyone has a part to do, just like football — everyone has their own assignments to do.”

Speaking of the violence that seems to always be a part of every year’s season, Lolo said, "I remember about 4 or 5 years ago … every season would always have fights."

He said, "The year before and last year we've seen that there is a change – like the Bible preaches, ‘E sili atu le toa e pulea lona loto na'i le'o le e a'ea olo ma mauga maualuluga’ — this means that winning isn't important. Winning is only something that you can focus on to improve as a competitor.”

The governor told the players, “Importantly, is what you gain out of the game – to make peace with your enemy, to have respect for your opponents and have honor amongst each other and to love one another because in reality, you are all related one way or another."

Lolo concluded, "Our hopes and our wishes for you is that may all of these experiences help improve you as a person in your young lives. Your teachers and coaches can provide you with future opportunities, but your success within depends on you."