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2019 Men’s World Championship 2019 Men’s World Championship
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Date: 10/3/2018

Women: American Samoa (ASA)


Key Players: 
Danielle FLOOR (left wing), Stephanie FLOOR (left wing/specialist), Salatupemasina Florence TOILOLO (goalkeeper)

Path to Buenos Aires 2018: 
2017 IHF Women’s U17 Beach Handball World Championship – 12th


The story of American Samoa having a handball team is like something out of a fairytale, but with a 12th place finish at 2017 IHF Women’s U17 Beach Handball World Championship in Mauritius last year, they are ready to appear on the ultimate stage.

“I had never heard of handball until three-and-a-half years ago when I saw the game being played recreationally in the USA at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania,” said Head Coach Carl ‘CJ’ Sagapolutele Floor to IHF.info ahead of the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

“I liked the game so much and being a coach with no opportunities in American Samoa I decided to learn the game,” added Floor. “I then started coaching and teaching it to my athletic twin daughters –who also had no sporting opportunities – and then we started the American Samoa Handball Association.”

Assisting Floor in his coaching duties on the island in the South Pacific, which is a United States of America territory, is assistant coach Joey Sagapolu, and as President of the American Samoa Handball Association, Floor has also been able to bring in assistance as he aims to make his team competitive on the global stage.

“Joey learned the game with me, and like me, he also never played,” explained Floor. “The IHF also sent then Australian Coaches Boris Mensing and Andrew Kelso to us in the past and they provided not only valuable coaching and instructions to our players, but to us too as a coaching pair.”

In Mauritius, American Samoa lost 2:0 against Spain and Portugal in their preliminary group matches, but a 2:0 win over continental rivals Australia meant qualification through to the main round.

2:0 losses against China and Venezuela in the main round set up a mini-tournament for 9-14 place where they lost to Paraguay (2:0), but another win over Australia (2:1) would ultimately mean a spot at Buenos Aires, after they ended their tournament on a high note, beating host country Mauritius 2:0.

Their preliminary group in Argentina sees them face world champions Hungary in their first game, ahead of clashes against Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Mauritius and Russia and the coach is under no illusions about the tough task ahead.

“We have a tough pool,” said Floor. “We’ve played Mauritius and Chinese Taipei before and we know what to expect. Hungary are the world champions and although we haven’t played them, we have studied their games regularly. Russia, Croatia and Hong Kong will be tough – I expect unexpected results, but we’re ready.”

As reported by IHF.info American Samoa has had a diverse preparation for Buenos Aires which has included fundraising efforts including the ‘March to the Youth Olympics’ in February 2018 and the construction of their first beach handball court – a task completed by the coaching staff, officials and players themselves.

In February 2018, the team competed at the Oceania Beach Handball Championship in Adelaide, ranking second behind Australia and then in August, they competed against senior teams at the SoCal Beach Handball Tournament in Los Angeles, USA.

“Adelaide, Australia was phase one of what we call ‘the road to the gold’, said Floor. “We needed competition and that was our purpose. A successful silver placement in the women’s division of the Oceania Beach Handball Championships validated the teams’ progress since building the official court.”

In the USA, American Samoa continued their partnership with LA Team Handball coach Juliano de Oliveira which has involved numerous on and off court work, with a trip across the country, to Boston, where they worked with members of Boston Team Handball indoors.

“The games in LA were very competitive and our team grew because of that,” continued Floor. “We sustained a few injuries which effected our standing, but not our purpose. Our purpose is experience – that is what we lack.”

Buenos Aires highlights just how far the Oceanic nation has come in such a short period of time, with the team having been established only in January 2017. For Floor, he knows the global event is not just about individual results, but the bigger picture for the sport in the country and the region.

“I am hoping that competing at the Youth Olympic Games will raise awareness for our athletes back in American Samoa and how far commitment to dreams can take them,” he said. “I also expect to proudly represent Oceania and show how competitive we are.”

Follow American Samoa through the Facebook pages of the federation and the team.


Group at Buenos Aires 2018
Group A: Hungary (HUN), Chinese Taipei (TPE), Croatia (CRO), American Samoa (ASA), Mauritius (MRI), Russia (RUS)

Preliminary Group A: Match Schedule
All times local

Monday 8 October

11:40 HUN vs ASA     Group A

16:10 ASA vs TPE Group A


Tuesday 9 October

10:50 ASA vs MRI      Group A

15:20 RUS vs ASA     Group A


Wednesday 10 October

11:40 CRO vs ASA    Group A


Photo: American Samoa Handball Association