The action has started on the hockey field of Tuanaimato Sports Complex.
But this time, no hockey sticks can be spotted at the venue: this year’s Toa Gas National Provincial Championships hosted by Samoa Touch Association (S.T.A.) kicked off yesterday.
The competition includes four different teams, subdivided in men’s, women’s and mixed teams.
Apart from West Tigers, East steppers and After Math South, there is one novelty in the tournament: a team of Samoan players based in Queensland, Australia.
According to the S.T.A., some of this special team’s players even participated in the Touch Rugby World Cup in 2015, where Samoa was able to come fifth place overall.
“This tournament includes the best of our local players. But to make it a little bit different this year, we’ve included the team from Queensland,” said Samoa Touch Association’s President, Hobart Va’ai.
“It’s always difficult to organise the competition, but what we’re trying to do is to extend the tournament all the time and next year, it might get even bigger.”
The competition, which is also used by the players in order to prepare for the upcoming 2017 World Cup held in Malaysia, was indeed a good reason for Samoan players in Australia to come back to their old home.
“It’s our first time at the Provincial Championships and some of us haven’t been home for a couple of years. It’s especially good for our younger players to come back and see their homeland where their parents and grandparents grew up,” explained the Australian team’s captain Tasi Cordtz, who hasn’t been back to Samoa for seven years. For him and his team, the tournament also offers the opportunity to meet new faces.
“Having fun and meeting new friends is an important part of this competition for us.”
Even though the Australian team from Queensland is new to the Championships, the tourney’s familiar faces took their preparations as serious as they did in the years before.
“We’ve been training for the past two months now with sessions on three days a week. But last week, we pretty much trained every single day. There hasn’t been much time for us, so we had to concentrate on both, skill work and fitness at the same time,” said East Steppers’ head coach, Faumuina Deejay Fong.
For the rest of the tournament, the coach of the local team was able to tell a simple formula for success during the following match days: “If we play happy, we play well.”
S.T.A.’s National Provincial Championships will conclude with the third match day’s finals being held from 3.30pm onwards on the hockey field of Tuanaimato Sports Complex for all three categories including all-men, all-women and mixed teams.