Ads by Google Ads by Google

FFAS long anticipated facilities kick off with terrain being leveled

Heavy duty machinery leveling building site



Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The journey of a hundred miles starts with the first step, as the saying goes.

The same can be said of the Football Federation of American Samoa’s (FFAS) long awaited and much anticipated facilities which include an artificial turf soccer pitch built to international FIFA standard specifications, earmarked for international games and local championship games.

Another field will be built for local competition and training for local clubs, with grandstands for both fields, complete with public amenities like bathrooms and food stalls, as well as changing rooms for players and office space for the territory’s national soccer association.

The new facilities will be built on government land next to the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna.

The multi-million project funded by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) through its FIFA Forward Program, has been on hold for some time pending the finalization of logistic details and mutual agreement between the FFAS and the American Samoa Government, with regard to land lease conditions.

Unfortunately, speculations that the green light has been given and that the facilities will be a reality soon, could not be confirmed due to the fact that the FFAS President Fai’ivae Iuli A. Godinet and CEO Tavita Taumua are currently attending the 74th FIFA Congress in 2024 held in Bangkok, Thailand.

However, Samoa News noticed that the initial clearing of the land on which the project will be built has been completed and work has progressed to leveling the terrain in preparation for the construction of the actual project.

This worked has been carried out by the Hollister General Services Company but sources at FFAS clarified that the bidding process for project’s contractor has not been done yet.

In an exclusive interview with FFAS President Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet in August last year, he revealed that initial negotiations with government regarding the lease of the piece of land at Tafuna next to the Veterans’ Memorial Stadium ended with the whole piece of land made available for lease to the local soccer association, to build a state-of-the-art soccer stadium complete with an academy, which would house visiting teams.

The project would cost close to $5 million and the funds would come from the FIFA Forward Program, which aims to improve the way football is developed and supported across the globe so that football (soccer) can reach its potential in every single country, and everyone who wants to take part can do so without barriers.

This would be done through more investment, more impact and more oversight, and would benefit all member associations including FFAS.

However, Fai’ivae stated that he was later informed by government officials that there had been a change of plans and that the land at Tafuna which FFAS had cleared in anticipation of this multi million dollar project had been divided into two lots.

They revealed that the lot next to the road will be utilized by ASG, while the lot inland had been earmarked for the local soccer association’s use.

It is not clear what the government intends to do with the lot it has taken back after agreeing to lease both lots to FFAS.

At present, shipping containers are now stored there.

“This has been a big blow to our plans,” Fai’ivae stated at the time. “This was going to be our association’s gift to the future generations of American Samoa not only in the sport of soccer but also to other sports because they would be allowed to use the facilities.

“And if our lease was not renewed some time in the future we would hand everything to the government to use for the benefit of our young people. However at the end of the day, the government’s final decision will prevail.”

However, Fai’ivae pointed out that despite this setback, they are grateful for the space they have been given by government and will prioritize the building of an artificial turf soccer pitch to international FIFA standard specifications for international games and local championship games, and another field for local games and training for local clubs.

The original lease was duly executed by ASG and FFAS and subsequently recorded on October 31, 2023. Then in November of the same year, FFAS executed their option to extend the original term of the lease to 55 years, to expire on Nov. 30, 2078. The lease was approved during the special session of the Fono that convened on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

The importance of this project to the development of soccer in American Samoa was explained by FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua who pointed out that although the association’s main field at Pago Pago where their main headquarters are also located, meets FIFA international standards, the location of the field in Pago Pago village poses a few problems.

“We are very mindful of the village rules and regulations,” Taumua stated. “Every evening at 6:30pm when the village curfew sounds for evening prayers, we have to respect it and we end all activities on the field.

He pointed out that this is also the reason why no floodlights have been installed at the field because night games would disturb the peace at a time when families are spending quality time together.

“The field is also right in front of the Pago Pago Catholic Church,” the FFAS CEO pointed out. “We are very grateful to the village of Pago Pago for allowing our association to use this historical piece of land, and we reciprocate by respecting their laws and way of life.”

Taumua stated that this is the reason why the building of the new proposed field at Tafuna is very important because there will be longer hours where games, tournaments and even night games can be staged.

Samoa News awaits the safe return of the FFAS president and CEO so they can provide confirmation on the matter, but for local soccer enthusiasts, they can find consolation in the fact that the second step to making the project a reality has been taken.

In other soccer news, the 2024 high schools league culminated last week with Leone High School winning the Junior Varsity Championship by defeating Tafuna High School in the final, while Samoana emerged victorious in the Variety Division in their action-packed final against the Leone Lions.

In the Junior Varsity Division, Pacific Horizon Academy defeated Samoana High School for third and fourth places, while Fagaitua High School won narrowly against the Pacific Horizon Academy to grab third place.

According to FFAS Competition Manager Augustine L. Grey, the association will be conducting a Summer Youth Grassroots Program next month with the aim of introducing the sport of soccer to the young players aged 4yrs-6yrs, 7yrs-9yrs and 10yrs-12yrs, so that they understand the basics of the game.

This will be followed by another Summer Youth Program which will be coordinated by the Department of Education for the older players. The date for this program will be finalized and announced later.