When Football Federation Samoa were looking for a poster child for their football programmes they found a perfect example in Jarvis Filimalae.
Not only is he passionate about the game, he’s also a product of the very programmes he was engaged to help promote.
Football Federation Samoa (FFS) Just Play Project Manager Lynetta Laumea-Edward said Filimalae was part of the OFC Just Play programme and graduated from there to Fun Football before being integrated into the first Centre of Development in 2013.
It was during this time that he was chosen to be the face of Fun Football, starring in a television commercial promoting the programme.
“It was hard to film the ad,” he said.
“But I had a feeling I could do it. I got recognised a lot after the video and I think it did influence a lot of kids to join the programme.
“Kids asked me those questions like how to get involved and I was always able to tell them, ‘FFS – they do it for Samoa and all the kids at Fun Football’,” the young striker enthused.
Becoming a local face for the game he is hugely passionate about was an honour for the young footballer.
Filimalae’s start in football came via his father who was a referee and Just Play community coach.
“When I was about seven my dad, he was joining the FFS in Samoa,” Filimalae said.
“He was a referee and he brought a ball and I just started kicking it around and doing tricks.”
“I think Fun Football really helped me to develop. It’s the group where I started football, I started learning all my skills there,” he explained.
“It’s good because I have become an example for other kids, to show they can be in a national team or even get a scholarship.
“It’s an example that talent can develop in Samoa, seeing a player go out on a scholarship like I am is a good example.
“I cans how them it’s not just the rest of the world that has these opportunities. It’s just mentality, if you want to be the best you can do anything but you have to have faith.”
Filimalae has a scholarship to attend Hastings Boy’s High School where as well as developing as a footballer, he’s also relishing the educational opportunities.
“It’s good because English is my second language and I can develop that. It’s very good for my education, I’m learning so much.”
Filimalae said he has been incredibly fortunate to have so many opportunities, and is pleased that the hard work and sacrifice has resulted in him representing his country.
“It’s an honour to join the team,” he said of making his international debut with the U-16 in Tonga.
“The team helps me, they guide me, they’ve done a lot for me. I want to thank FFS in Samoa for the role they have had in my life, it’s a good thing for me to show the world we can do it.”
Filimalae is slowly building an impressive record for himself.
Two goals in the opening match against Cook Islands, he also added a further two in the 10-3 victory over American Samoa.
With one match left in the competition, he’s hoping to add a few more.
“I play striker so the thing I like is to beat players and score,” he said.
“I was happy to score goals. I didn’t even know if I could score at this level but I did.
“We have confidence, we know that we can do it even if every team will be difficult.”