Seven Washington Youth Soccer players will temporarily trade in their club badges to represent Federation Football American Samoa (FFAS) in the preliminary round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Fiji August 25-31st.
“My involvement with Washington Youth Soccer has allowed me the opportunity to meet many administrators and coaches throughout the years,” said Larry Mana’o, head coach of American Samoa women’s national soccer team. “These relationships have allowed me to inquire about American Samoan players who might be playing in local clubs and associations in Washington State.”
“I think that this is a great opportunity for these girls. We are very proud and wish them success!” said Terry Fisher, CEO of Washington Youth Soccer.
Mana’o, who also coaches locally for Crossfire Premier, is hosting a training camp for the team that began August 7th in Redmond, WA. Training camp will run through August 21 with friendly matches against teams from local colleges and the WPSL. “Playing great youth club teams, women professional teams, and top college teams is unbelievable and unavailable in American Samoa,” Mana’o adds.
To train competitively, it costs FFAS $50,000 to fly its team to other islands for friendlies—resources the small US Territory of 55,000 does not have access to. Instead, Mana’o is leveraging opportunities to train his team, locally, in the state of Washington.
“FFAS doesn't have any funds left for the women to train in Seattle so we are funding it ourselves,” said Larry Mana’o. “With Washington State and Hawaii providing more than 13 players to represent American Samoa, we can train and play competitive [women] teams in Washington State and save nearly $40,000 in expenses.”
Still, even with leveraging opportunities to train the team locally, Mana’o and his team are still $10,000 in the red. To finance the remaining cost to train, the team has set up a GoFundMe page.
“For nearly 18 years I have been trying to change the course of soccer on the island,” Mana’o said. “Are we improving? In the last men’s competition in 2015, we moved up 35 places in the FIFA World Cup Rankings. Now, I want to see if we can improve our position in the Women’s World Cup Rankings.”
American Samoa women’s national soccer team has never won a FIFA-sanctioned tournament game—ranked 141 in the world with 39 other teams. On August 25, Larry Mana’o and his Washington Youth Soccer-stacked team will set out to change the record.
Players developed through Washington Youth Soccer are Ashley Hall (Washington Premier FC), Alma Mana’o (WYS Elite Player Development), Ava Mana’o (Crossfire Premier), Haleigh Mana’o (Crossfire Premier), Severina Mana’o (GS Surf), Malia Moaalii (Federal Way FC), and Gizel Pene (Federal Way FC).
Support the team’s effort to compete, here (gofundme.com/american-samoan-womens-soccer).