The Samoa U-18 school boys’ team is set and ready for the Oceania Sevens Championships and Qualifier tournament for the Youth Olympic tournament to be held in Sydney, Australia, on dates 21st and 22nd of April.
Coached by former Samoa National Sevens and Manu Samoa Head Coach Stephen Betham, the team is also assisted by Rev. Onosa’i So’o as the Team Manager.
According to Betham, it’s a tough task ahead but he believes nothing is impossible and they will take their challenges one step at a time.
“The main aim of the Oceania tournament that we will be competing at in Sydney is to qualify an Oceania team for the upcoming Youth Olympics in Argentina.”
“The challenging part of this qualifying tournament is that we will be going up against New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and all the Oceania countries fighting for only one spot.”
“So it will not be an easy task ahead of the Samoa U-18 Sevens team, but it’s not impossible.”
“Nothing is impossible. We have been in talk with the players as well taking one step at a time. Tonga will be our first opponent, so all our focus is on them. We will prepare for other opponents after the game with Tonga.”
Betham said they have been in preparation mode for the past five weeks.
He also mentioned that they have been working on their fitness level before focusing on the technical side of the game.
“It’s been five weeks since we have been putting together our team of school boys.”
“From the 21 players we had in that five weeks, the squad was then shortened to 15 players after the first three weeks, until our final 12 players were named last week.”
“The first thing we worked through in putting this team together was mainly on their fitness level.”
“We believed their fitness level has been done and well-build according to the requirement they need to be, but we have been working on the technical tactical rugby session side from last week and this week.”
“At the moment, we are trying to implement rugby knowledge and skills to align well with their fitness level.”
“The fitness level is of the most significant factor of rugby sevens because that is the key for all factor needed for sevens and so far we believe we have achieved our fitness goal.”
“Mental fitness is one of the focuses that we are trying to work on in our preparations in order to maintain their standard and to be consistent in all their challenges.”
Betham stated: “The most challenging part of the camp so far is that these players have been camping and training hard throughout these five weeks and yet there’s no competition to test what they have been trained for because there is no sevens competition at the moment in Samoa to test these players.”
“So at the moment we have few players from the national sevens development squad here who we have used to build a scenario to test the team, especially in their defensive part of the game.”
“You can teach sevens rugby but you won’t be able to learn a lot until you play it. Much learning about sevens will come from when you play it.”
“So for now, that is the only challenge we have according to our preparations because we haven’t competed or tested, so realistically, our game against Tonga will the first main game these boys will be playing together as a team.”
Betham added three players selected to his final squad represented Samoa in the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas last year.
“So we are relying on their knowledge to contribute to the other nine players coming in the squad and our campaign.”
“We had prepared well and we will only find out during the tournament where we stand.”
The Samoa U-18 sevens team will depart the country for Sydney, Australia, on Thursday and will be back Monday next week.
Samoa U-18 Sevens
Pio Paulo Fuiono
Andrew Paul Junior Wulf
Viliamu Junior East Timor Faamatuainu
Luke Ezra Elisara Malietoa
Mark Tui Tusigaigoa
Non Travelling Reserves
Papu Lonetona Tautala
Petervenssil Lalomilo Ma’afi
Coach: Stephen Betham
Team Manager/Assit Coach: Rev. Onsa’i So’o