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Pago Park receives blessing before facelift

The impressive facility was opened in 2007 but was badly damaged by a natural disaster just two years later when a series of earthquakes and tsunamis devastated parts of American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga in September 2009.
The second and third phases of the Goal Project – an initiative by FIFA to help national associations around the world improve their facilities – are about to get underway and the ground has now been blessed to allow this work to go ahead.
CCCAS Utulei’s Reverend Ioane Evagelia led the ceremony while site plan manager Perelini Perelini, government dignitaries and FFAS club member presidents were also in attendance.
Invitations were extended to FIFA Vice-President and OFC President Reynald Temarii and representatives from the FIFA Development Office in Oceania.
Their attendance was not possible due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa but President Temarii sent his best wishes for the blessing ceremony and is looking forward to the inauguration celebrations when all construction work is completed.
The CCCAS Utulei choir filled the air with inspirational hymns throughout the day, while Reverend Evagelia reminded everyone that 18 people died at Pago Pago in the tsunami.
FFAS maintenance manager Paepae Soia Su was lucky to escape with his life that day and said a prayer for those who weren’t so fortunate during the ceremony.
FIFA has contributed US $800,000 towards the tsunami repair work and the next phases of the Goal Project, which will see the park undergo a facelift.
The field will be extended on three sides – towards the seaside, river and Paramount Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega’s residence – and the playing surface will also be re-sown.
Bermuda couch grass was originally planted but struggled to grow well. This time it will be replaced with carpet grass by Laurie Stubbing, field consultant from Vuksich and Borich Ltd.
The damage suffered during the tsunami will also be repaired, including a new security fence and extension work will be carried out on the FFAS building.
The project is expected to be completed by October.
During the blessing, Governor Faoa I.Sunia – representing Governor Togiola Tulafono, who is travelling off the island – thanked FFAS President Iuli Alex Godinet for the invitation and pledged his support for the federation’s work in the territory, such as its scholarship awards for the American Samoa Community College.
Three local high school graduates were awarded scholarships to attend the college at the end of the ceremony.
Paramount Chief Asuega also took time to ask the government dignitaries present to look at building a seawall to protect the field and complex because, if another tsunami occurs, it is likely to come through the same route as it did last time.

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