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Date: 2/12/2018

As they prepare to compete in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in October, American Samoa’s Under 18 women’s beach handball team are busy not only with their training programme, but with promoting the growing sport in their country.


In 2017, the team and officials started building the nation’s first full beach handball court, helped by supporters and sponsors. Early in February 2018, they completed a fundraising effort – the ‘March to the Youth Olympics’, which saw the entire squad, two coaches and four players from CaBoom Handball Club walk a total of 18 miles. The idea came about as a way to raise money for the team to compete at the Australian Beach Handball Championships in Adelaide later in the month.


“I decided that, because we have players from three of the six public high schools, we should march from Leone High School to Samoana High School – approximately 18 miles. We asked the public to support our efforts with a pledge for every mile walked,” said President of the American Samoa Handball Federation Carl J. Sagapolutele Floor Sr, saying the walk-a-thon raised several thousand dollars that will be used towards to the team’s airfares to travel to Adelaide.


“Most importantly we raised additional awareness for our Youth Olympic qualifying ladies,” continued Sagapolutele Floor Sr, adding that they are still short of their goals so are continuing with the fundraising efforts. “We are still not sure if we can afford to compete in Adelaide.”


Meanwhile, the beach handball court is nearing completion, with bleachers, restrooms, showers and lockers now being designed to complement the playing field at Nighthawk Maliu Mai Beach Resort.


In terms of preparing the squad for the tough competition expected in Buenos Aires in October, Sagapolutele Floor Sr – who is also the team’s coach – is focused on broadening the pool of players from which to select the team. Three new players, all of whom are more specialised in defence, joined the squad at the end of 2017.


“It’s been a rough few months trying to build our court, train for the tournament in Adelaide, and fundraise. The economy has placed a burden on our sponsorship opportunities from local businesses, but our girls look much better now that we have been training on a real beach court,” said Sagapolutele Floor Sr.


“This [the Oceania and Australian Beach Handball Championship] is a perfect opportunity for us to gain some experience and gauge our performance so that I can develop our next training schedules and routine. Steel sharpens steel, so having our U18 team compete against Oceania's best women will be challenging, but I expect to be competitive.”

Photo: American Samoa Handball Association