The two main islands in Samoa are benefiting from increased investment and opportunities for women’s football with concurrent leagues running in Upolu and Savaii.
Last week the FFS Savaii Senior Women’s 7-a-side tournament kicked off the first of six weeks of competition at the FFS Regional Development Centre in Iva.
Twelve teams are taking part in the tournament, representing 10 clubs: McKay, Vaiafai, Iva Lions, Salelologa, Suifaga Hippo, Vailoa Palauli, Pu’apu’a, Satupa’itea – Pitonu’u, Sapapali’i SC and Saipipi SC.
Savaii Development Manager Papalii Tala Salamasina said the benefit of starting out with 7-a-side football is it helps develop speed and technical ability, while giving clubs with smaller pools of players the opportunity to attract more players and develop their teams.
“We decided to start our senior women’s tournament with a smaller-scale version of football which gives the participating teams the opportunity to play in a fast and fun environment,” he said.
“Given the small number of women playing football, I believe the 7-a-side is an effective platform to attract the interest of girls as the duration of the game is shorter, though more intense. It’s a quick way to gain the interest of girls who have the skills but might doubt their ability to play on the bigger field. When they get out there their energy and passion develops and they feel the urge to play.”
In Upolu, the Women’s Premier League got underway at the end of August alongside the Men’s Premier League and First Division, with 13 clubs registered to participate.
Now heading into it’s sixth round of matches, the standings are starting to take shape with Moataa FC sitting on top with five wins from five. The side has scored an impressive 47 goals in their matches so far, conceding just three along the way. It’s one of the smallest squads registered for the competition but boasts Samoa international Hazel Peleti among the ranks, as well as former Samoa U-17 women’s coach Nadia Malifa.
A close second on the table is Faleasiu SC who have won four, lost one and Faatoia United sit in third place with three wins and two draws so far.
The two leagues are evidence exciting times are ahead for Samoa, who made history in 2019 when they played the XVI Pacific Games final against Papua New Guinea and picked up a first-ever games silver medal.
Additional reporting Football Federation Samoa