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Succesful Afterschool program ends

That’s what happened when FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua went up with a box of soccer balls during the closing ceremony of the Ta’ita’itama and Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa’s Mentoring Initiative Afterschool Program at Le’atele elementary in Fagasa.
“We want to give you a ball so that you can continue the program at home,” explained Taumua before handing out the coveted prizes to the more than 20 students of the program.
The afterschool initiative was spearheaded by First Lady Maryann Tulafono and the Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa’s board of directors that includes top ASG officials.
Six schools — Matatula, Alofau, Le’atele, Tafuna, Leone Midkiff and Taputapu/Alataua II elementaries — participated in the pilot program for the BGCAS that lasted 20 weeks for a total of 160 hours.
Each school held its own closing ceremonies at their respective campuses with the eastern elementaries having theirs on May 11 and the western on May 12.
FFAS was asked to take part in the program by the First Lady and the association happily got involved.
“After their homework, what were we going to do? We needed an activity,” she explained during her remarks at Le’atele. “(FFAS) was the only group we knew we could bring to all the six schools to run the program because it’s called a gender-friendly sport.
“Gender-friendly means its not football where girls cannot play…its boys and girls together they can kick the ball and go forward together,” she added. “A couple of months back (FIFA) President (Joseph S.) Blatter…paid a visit to us and took special interest in the Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa promoting soccer in our schools so (Tavita) I want to thank you very much for allowing us to have this in our program.”
Department of Social Services Director Leilua Stevenson told the children that one of the keys was having fun.
“The Ta’ita’itama and Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa is proud to be able to offer an afterschool program that is both educational and fun for you all,” she explained. “The most important thing was that you did it and had a lot of fun doing it.”
But there is more, they both said, telling the children that they will have a summer program for all set to kick off in June.
FFAS President Iuli Alex Godinet, unable to attend the ceremonies due to having to attend an OFC Executive Committee meeting, lauded the First Lady’s initiative.
“When it comes to anything involving children, FFAS will jump at the chance of partnering up with whatever agency, individual or groups that are establishing programs for their betterment,” Iuli said. “Soccer can be played by anyone and it is very popular among the children, and this is great because playing the sport helps them stay active and healthy at the same time.
“We look forward to continuing this relationship with Ta’ita’itama and the Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa.”
Volleyball was also a part of the program.
“It was wonderful seeing the children’s eyes alight with glee when I was about to hand out the soccer balls,” Taumua explained. “To all of you that received a ball, keep playing because someday when you grow older you may well represent American Samoa as a star male or female player.”

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