Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has hosted players and officials at a traditional Samoan church service during a rest day at the 2006 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship.
The OFC delegation was treated to a stirring sermon by Reverend Fepai Kolia and sweet singing from the church choir at the EFKS Youth Hall in the village of Mulinuu on the shoreline of Apia.
Rev Kolia told the congregation to mould their behaviour on the football pitch with lessons from the bible before wishing the teams the best of luck for the remainder of the tournament.
Prime Minister Malilegaoi, who doubles as the patron of the Samoan Football Federation, welcomed the competitors and urged them to explore his “beautiful country” during breaks in play.
He promised to keep his address short given the “smell of food filling our nostrils” as a traditional Samoa lunch (To’ana’i) was being prepared in the back of the hall.
Mr Malilegaoi was elected to a fifth term as Prime Minister after Samoa’s general election on Friday.
John Herdman’s side return to the tournament venue to meet unbeaten Tonga on Monday to decide which team tops group A.
New Zealand have beaten the Solomon Islands 4-0 and Vanuatu 11-0 to underline their favourtism for the title and Oceania’s berth at the inaugural FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia from August 16 – September 2.
Hosts Samoa are scheduled to play Papua New Guinea on Tuesday to find the winner of pool B. The loser is set to meet New Zealand in one of Thursday’s semifinals with the Kiwis favoured to win pool A after recently beating Tonga 16-0 in a warm-up match at North Harbour Stadium in Albany.