Samoa Gridiron is offering high school students a chance to further their education through sport.
Boys aged 12-18 can come along to free gridiron coaching clinics at the Marist Brother’s Primary School this week.
Coach Callum Jones said learning the game of gridiron is just part of what they offer.
“It’s all just about an educational pathway for these kids.
“To get them overseas, get scholarships, that’s the goal of the programme.”
Samoa Gridiron follow the blueprint set by former mentor Coach Tupu.
Agatupu Lefao, who passed away in July, founded the Samoa Gridiron programme so athletes from Samoa could attend college and play in the U.S.A.
Lefao was an inspirational force behind partnering Samoa Gridiron with the U.S. Embassy to offer the boys study-hall tutorials twice a week, at the Nelson Memorial Public Library.
Coach Jones is committed to carrying that legacy forward.
“It’s a whole 360 degree programme.
“Providing them an opportunity to get employment overseas, or come back here at a much higher level.”
St Joseph’s College gridiron football team make up the majority of the players training under Coach Jones.
The team recently returned from a trip to Pago Pago, American Samoa, where they performed admirably against the more experienced Tafuna High School Warriors.
Jones said playing that level of competition is key to pushing his team forward.
“We did amazingly well.
“They were in the middle of their season and we hadn’t played for almost a year.”
He said the close 6-0 loss was hugely encouraging, and with more games the boys will only get better.
As gridiron grows in Samoa, the next goal is to get a five-team high school competition going.
With more numbers of both athletes and volunteers to support the teams, Coach Jones said regular trips overseas should be possible down the road.
“Samoa’s hearts and minds are with rugby.
“But bringing our open-field rugby skills into gridiron, we’ll do well.”
He says the clinics are about making people aware of what they are doing as a group, both sporting and education-wise.
“Coach Loso I’aulualo is here from Pago Pago, he’s a real encyclopedia of football.”
Coach I’aulualo will be at tomorrow morning’s session at the Marist Brother’s Primary School.
There is another open clinic at the school at 2:30pm today.