American Samoa’s contingent to the Football For Hope Festival in Moscow, Russia, are enjoying the time of their lives, and making a lifetime of memories in the process.
The group, led by delegation leader Tavita Taumua and young leader Steffany Godinet, includes young players Gabriel Taumua, Chris Faamoana, Susan Godinet and Seirosa Tuaua.
“Our young athletes are enjoying themselves, and socializing with their counterparts from around the world,” said Taumua, CEO of Football Federation American Samoa. “It has been non-stop activities for them since we got here, but all are doing great and are healthy at the same time.”
Steffany Godinet, a club official from FFAS club member Ilaoa & To’omata, said that their four athletes are quite “popular amongst their peers,” and have “received good feedback from the FIFA team.”
The event involves 48 non-governmental organizations from 38 countries selected through an application process, and after submitting theirs in 2017 FFAS received the good news that they were officially selected as one of the participants.
“It was great news to receive for us because we had applied for the festival held in Brazil in 2014 and did not get lucky on that one,” Taumua recalled. “But after the date had come and gone when they were going to announce the winning applications, we thought that American Samoa was unlucky again.
“However, when that e-mail came in saying American Samoa was selected, my staff and I were very happy, and then we got down to the selection process for the rest of our delegation.”
Only six spots were available — a delegation leader, young leader (age 19-30), and two males and two females ages 15-18. The two leaders also had to be different genders. The FFAS staff quickly narrowed the selection down to the most active players in the required age groups.
“This is a great program and we are very thankful to get a spot in it for American Samoa,” said FFAS President Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet. “The selection was sole made my our staff based on criteria they had set down for other previous groups that represented our territory at FIFA or OFC programs.”
One of those is that a player, coach or club official selected to represent American Samoa must be active in FFAS clubs through its leagues and competitions, as well as programs.
The event falls under the FIFA Foundation, “an independent entity with the objectives to help promote positive social change around the world and raise support for the recovery and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed sports infrastructure worldwide,” according to it’s overview on the FIFA website.
It aims at showing how soccer makes an impact through education, health promotion, peace-building, social integration and youth leadership, while also displaying the passion for the game, fair play and cultural diversity. It is using the game as a platform for social development.
The festival is 11 days long (June 23-July 3), with activities ranging from festival games, youth forum, cultural-presentations from different countries, capacity building workshops and social development sessions through soccer.
They then close out the festival with a tournament dubbed football3 that has special rules, with no referees but conducted with fair play and respect between athletes. The young leaders of each delegation are taking a hand in conducting the activities, and also mediating in the tournament.