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National League returns to Pago Soccer Stadium

“When our competition kicks off this Saturday, it’ll be the 24th and that’s just five days away from the two year anniversary of the tsunami that badly damaged our facilities here,” said FFAS President Iuli Alex Godinet. “It is a happy feeling for all of FFAS, from our executive committee to our staff, clubs and especially the players to be able to play on our very own field again.
“For this to be possible we are greatly thankful to FIFA for providing us with the funds in order for our association to rebuild and improve the facilities here in Pago Park Soccer Stadium,” said Iuli. “Our thanks also go out to Governor Togiola Tulafono and ASG for providing us with the lease of this land.
“We had a historic visit by Joseph S. Blatter, OFC President David Chung and all the other OFC MA presidents and leaders earlier this year for the re-opening of FFAS and now to finally host our first competition in our ‘House of Football’ caps off a good year for our association.”
The 2010 season was held at the field owned by Kananafou Theological Seminary.
“To the leaders of Kananafou, we are eternally grateful to you for allowing us use of your field for all of our programs,” thanked Iuli. “This doesn’t mean the end of our relationship as I know we will still continue to use your field from time to time.”
One of the improvements to the field including extending it towards the creek side in order to fit in two, FIFA dimension-sized fields.
“I think tactics wise this will allow our teams to open up their games a bit more rather than playing on small, cramped fields that we used to on our old field,” said FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua. “Our technical staff and I are looking forward to seeing this as it will, in the long run, help our men and women’s national teams of the future.”
The champions from the last two years in the men’s division kick off the competition simultaneously 2010 winners Pago Youth A taking on Atu’u Broncos B on Field 1 while 2009 conquerors Black Roses playing against PanSa on Field 2.
Black Roses, champions two years in a row, opens their campaign for a three-peat on Saturday against Vaitogi United at 9:30 on Field 1.
The President’s Cup, with the women to be included in this knockout cup tournament this year, is being called off this year due to the lack of weeks to hold it. It will be continued next year.
With 18 teams registering for the 2011 season, the competition will be divided into two pools with defending champs Pago Youth A heading Pool A while 1st runner up Black Roses leads Pool B.
Along with Pago Youth A, Pool A consists of Fagasa Youth, Kiwi Soccers, Ilaoa & To’omata, Vaiala Tongan, Vaitogi United, Lion Heart B, Atu’u Broncos B and Fagatogo Blue.
With Black Roses, other Pool B teams include Vailoatai Youth, Utulei Youth, Lion Heart A, Green Bay, Atu’u Broncos A, Pago Youth B, PanSa and Tafuna Jets.
The top two teams from each pool advance to the playoffs but there will be a new incentive for all teams to place in the top four of their respecitive pools.
“Because of the number of teams now competing, we’ve decided that in 2012 we will have two divisions, a 1st and 2nd Division,” Taumua explained. “The top eight teams that emerge at the end of this competition, meaning the top four from each pool, will be placed in the 1st Division while the rest will compete in the 2nd Division.
“The same thing will apply to the women’s competition as well,” continued Taumua.
2nd Division teams will have the chance to fight for a spot in the top division with the top two finishers at the completion of the 2012 competition to play off against the bottom two of the 1st Division with the winners moving or staying on top the and losers dropping of staying in the bottom bracket.
Black Roses heads Pool A of the women’s competition and the other teams are Ilaoa & To’omata, Pago Youth, Lion Heart, PanSa, Vaitogi United and Green Bay.
Pool B is led by Utulei Youth and the other teams are Tafuna Jets, Kiwi Soccers, Fagasa Youth, Vailotai Youth, Fagtogo Blue and Atu’u Broncos.
“Like the president said everybody is looking forward to playing on our own field again so good luck to all the teams and clubs for our 2011 National League,” Taumua said.

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