Photo Credit: Football Federation American Samoa
The new National League season in American Samoa kicked off this past weekend in Pago Pago, with the women’s league running alongside the men’s league at a time of unprecedented growth for women’s football in the region.
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ taking place in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, football in the Pacific is under a brighter spotlight than ever before and domestic leagues across the region can offer an insight into the substantial areas of development for the game across Oceania.
Despite their modest population of just over 49,000 people, American Samoa is one of the few Member Associations to have a National League in which clubs participate in both the men and women’s competitions. There are 11 teams competing in the men’s league and 10 in the women’s, with a domestic cup competition also up for grabs for both men and women as well as a National Youth League.
The clubs who will participate across both senior competitions are Royal Puma, Black Roses, Utulei Youth, Ilona & To’omata, Taputimu Youth (men’s only), Tafuna Jets, Vaiala Tonga, PanSa East FC, Lion Heart, Green Bay and Pago Youth, with all games taking place in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa.
OFC Clubs and Leagues Manager Steven Dillon is delighted to see another domestic football season kick off across the region. “Clubs remain the heartbeat of football and running a domestic national league is important to ensure that players, coaches, referees and administrators all get the opportunity to both participate and compete at the highest level locally.
“Having a domestic league also helps foster identity and pride in the local community and will no doubt serve as an environment to help grow and develop football in the nation. Locals should be excited about the new season with FFAS and we encourage everyone to go out and support their clubs,” Dillon added.
Kick-off for the new season follows on from a visit from FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™.
“We are here, of course, to help develop the game, but as well to invest in the game,” the FIFA President told FIFA.com. “For us, American Samoa is one of our 211 member associations. There are no big and no small countries in FIFA.”
He added that the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, belonged to the whole of Oceania, which has never staged a senior FIFA World Cup before.
OFC’s commitment to development in American Samoa was most recently evident through a FIFA MA Referee Course – as part of preparations for the new league season. OFC Head of Refereeing Kevin Stoltenkamp conducted the course, alongside support from local instructors.
A total of 35 participants attended, with a mixture of match officials, coaches from local clubs and and players, all working towards increasing their understanding of the Laws of the Game and expanding their areas of knowledge of the beautiful game.