Fruits of labour realised

Laumea-Fa’aiuaso, FFS Just Play Project Manager and Women’s Football Development Officer, spent close to three weeks in Nanjing, China following the Boy’s and Girl’s Youth Olympic Football tournament as a member of the FIFA Technical Study Group.
Alongside Head of the TSG Roberto Brantchen and Lim Kim Chon, Laumea Fa’aiuaso was in good company for her first FIFA TSG appointment.
“I think I was very shocked when I learned I would be going to China,” she recalls.
“At first I thought ‘am I hearing right?’, but then I thought it was recognition of what I have achieved so far and an opportunity for me to learn more.
“I knew a high level of expertise would be required but I was ready to take the challenge. I’ve always enjoyed watching games during the World Cup and doing my own analysis of the games, but I never thought that one day I would be watching them live and writing reports,” she admits.
With two experienced analysts by her side, Laumea-Fa’aiuaso could easily have felt intimidated however she says it was a perfect opportunity to test herself and extend her learning.
“Roberto expected a lot from me and he wasn’t the kind of person that tells me everything to do but let me explore and do what I felt I could. It was good because it opened my mind and I had nobody to pressure me, I could use my knowledge of football with their guidance,” Laumea-Fa’aiuaso says.
“It took a lot of focus to watch the games and have a good eye for who is scoring the goals while also taking notes. But working with Roberto and Lim Kim Chon was great.”
She says Chon’s 20-plus years of working in football was one thing, but his passion for football was something else.
“Every time we watched the games he helped me and would guide me on how to always have an eye on which player is going to pass to another.
“It was really hard for me at first, the first game especially, but he gave me advice which was so helpful. In fact they both shared their knowledge and expertise with me and that helped me a lot.”
With such high level experience under her belt, Laumea-Fa’aiuaso is confident football in Samoa, and women’s football in particular, will benefit.
“My experience will definitely have a positive impact on women’s football in Samoa,” she says.
“It was really amazing to see all these young girls so physically fit and active and socialising. These girls were all 12 before and now they are playing in the Youth Olympics – and I can see the difference with the Papua New Guinea team representing Oceania.
“One of the challenges we face here in the Pacific is we can’t retain these girls to play football for life and it’s something I think we can do if we drive it through opportunities to be at big competitions like this,” she says.
“Even just thinking about how much my team could have learned if they could have been with me and seen all the organisation that goes into these events.”
Laumea-Fa’aiuaso says from what she’s seen, what makes the biggest difference for teams is the coaching.
“Some teams were using the four corner model that we all talk about in coaching, and it all comes down to the coaching.
“I’m looking at coaching education in Samoa and I think that’s something we need to focus on more. More workshops for coaches, more support for coaches because they are the key for the players. Players can’t develop if they don’t have a better coach.”
The Youth Olympic Football Tournaments were held in Nanjing, China from 14-27 August 2014. Oceania was represented by the Papua New Guinea girls and Vanuatu boys.

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