Bluesky Country Manager Alex Abraham presenting a $70,000 cheque to Netball Samoa’s Rosemary Esera and national rep Romania Ng Lam Pose
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 29 JUNE 2017: The Samoa Under 20 netball team for the Botswana-Africa Netball Tournament 2017 features only one local player with the rest of the players are selected from New Zealand and Australia.
The local representative is 18 years old Romania Ng Lam Pose of Vaimoso.
“I am privileged, nervous and scared because it will be different, with me from Samoa, playing along experienced players,” said Romania.
“But I will try to blend in and make the most of my experience.”
Romania plays for the St Mary’s Old Girls Association (SMOGA) club after the secondary schools development programme.
In 2015, she was selected for the Under 19 netball team tour which exposed her to international competition and now the Under 20s fulfilling a dream to represent Samoa internationally.
The question is always why so few locals in international teams?
“This question keeps popping up, but you have to understand that the platform for Samoa is narrow,” said Gaualofa Matalavea-Saaga of the Samoa Netball Association.
She said netball is a team sport that is supposed to raise the capacity of young girls at the grass roots level and to lift their profile.
“There is one local player but needless to say, we have players of Samoan descent in the team,” said Gaualofa.
Bluesky & Samoa Netball Association partnership
The team is under a two year contract with Bluesky and Country Manager Alex Abraham presented $70,000 sponsorship to the netball administration team yesterday.
“Bluesky will be the major sponsor for netball local tournaments,” said Abraham.
“This is something we want to push and this is Bluesky’s contribution to building the game and the Association and we look forward to a strong relationship,” he said.
Alex said the intention is not only to develop the sport but to see more local players be part of national squad.
The Under 20 Team Manager Rosemary Esera said with the Bluesky’s assistance, they hope to encourage younger girls to participate through their school program and make it to national teams.
Rosemary said there is 06 months outreach program already lined up for schools on both islands to try and reconnect ties at the district level, especially with the churches who are very instrumental in reviving netball at a different level.
The program is education focused and to be a successful athlete, one must commit to school work according to Rosemary.
Gaualofa said, with Samoa being a rugby mad nation and with most women supporting it, the major challenge is not only to empower young women between 6000-8000 already registered, but trying to empower the decision makers to filter the resources to others sports such as netball.
The team leaves Samoa today and will meet with the rest of the team in Perth, Australia where they will have one warm up game.
The tournament starts on the 08 July and Samoa’s first game is against the world’s second best, New Zealand’s Silver Fern.
“I think this will be a good wake up call to the level of competition playing against the second best in world,” said Rosemary.
She said Team Samoa are all uncapped players and they are looking forward to the challenge.
“Samoa’s last ranking in Glasgow was 10 and we are prepared to do better this time,” said Rosemary.