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American Samoa handball gets ready for a busy school break

Student-players at Lupelele Elementary School
Source: American Samoa Handball Association

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Handball Association held a final Physical Education session for the 2021 school year with two full days of handball at Lupelele Elementary School May 27 and 28.

Over 100 students from levels 3, 6 and 7 joined in and took advantage of the fine weather.  Coaches and National Team Players from ASHA set up the field at 10am with the help of many students from level 7. Excitement grew when the newly donated electric scoreboard from the GCC Store was unveiled, which created a true game atmosphere.

National U14 players coached the level 3 students and helped with officiating, time keeping and score keeping, while ASHA President CJ Sagapolutele Floor and Treasurer Vaha Mafileo, who also coaches the National Teams, acted as advisors and assistants to the young students.

“We let the students get experience by controlling the game and it went very well.  Since we have trouble finding parents who are interested in coaching and officiating, we must develop from within,” said Coach Vaha.

The games played by levels 6 and 7 were highly competitive. The high level athleticism and handball skills demonstrated by these students that have been playing handball for over three years was exciting to watch and inspired the younger students.

“We really enjoy working with the students and staff at Lupelele” said ASHA President CJ Sagapolutele Floor. “The principal, staff and teachers are so friendly and supportive and the students love the game; they really understand how to play it.  I have no doubt that many of these students will be crowned Oceania Champions in the future,” he added.

Lupelele Elementary School students battle for control of the ball during the physical education session for handball hosted by the American Samoa Handball Association (ASHA). [photo: ASHA]

The wrap-up at the end of the day lasted for over 20 minutes as students of all levels expressed their excitement and gratitude with thank-yous, high fives and hugs.

Floor commented: ”I’m so happy to see a gymnasium being built at Lupelele. It’s been tough dealing with the sun, rain and unpredictable weather. Next year is going to be great. I hope to be able to volunteer my time for every level on a daily basis.”

This year ASHA also assisted Pacific Horizons School PE Teacher June Maeva with a few weeks of handball at The Veterans Memorial Stadium Sports Complex.  Students from levels 9 through 12 actively participated in learning the fundamentals and skills of handball followed by friendly games.

Sign-ups for summer league handball will be held every Tuesday and Thursday at The Sports Complex for athletes ages 12 to 18 between 2 and 5pm. There is no registration fee and games are set to begin in early July.  Interested athletes and parents can simply show up to register or call 272-1735 for information.

The 2022 handball tournament schedule has been announced by the International Handball Federation and ASHA is now gearing up for another run at the World Championships which will be held in Portugal.  Tryouts for the U17 and Senior Men’s and Women’s teams will begin next Tuesday and run for four weeks.  The tryouts and trainings will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 5pm at The Sports Complex, and every Saturday at 9am at the beach handball court in Fogagogo.

Athletes are reminded that they will need a US passport and their COVID-19 vaccinations in order to travel.

Floor stated, “ASHA plays, trains, travels, competes and wins often.  We do this with our local athletes and have no interest in athletes who have never stepped foot here in American Samoa. We have the athletes; all we need is parental support. Winning Oceania gold in the U17 division was great but, for me beating the Senior Women’s teams of New Zealand, Kiribati and Cook Islands with the same U17 girls speaks volumes to the success in our future.”