The four American Samoa High School All Star’s, who departed island Thursday night, to attend this year’s IFAF Games in Austin, Texas, in the World versus USA match up. Here they are wearing the helmets that were on the ESPN commercial. These helmets were specifically made for that commercial scene, and have not been used yet. [photo: T. Gasu]
There is a total of ten Samoan players who have been noted as participating in this year's International Federation of American Football Game event with 3 confirmed to play on the World Team Roster...
one bowing out due to prior commitments and 6 players who are listed on the World Team's practice squad. The game features the USA Team versus the World Team and will be played in Austin, Texas, Feb. 2.
Also selected to the IFAF Game event this year is Fagaitua High School's head coach Sua'ese Pooch Ta'ase, as the linebacker coach for the World team.
Last night, Ta'ase departed the island with three of American Samoa's All Star players Penitito Fa'alologo, Vivia Manuma, and Justin Taimatuia to attend the games in Texas.
Another All Star player Ben Langford will depart island on Monday along with Samoa Bowl Chairman Melila Purcell, to manage and help out our local All Star players who will be part of this year's World Team.
CONFIRMED ON WORLD TEAM ROSTER
The World Roster had four confirmed Samoan players: David Katina, who was a graduate of Kanana Fou High School last year, and was selected to the World Team during last year's IFAF Games; Leone High School player Beck Coulter; Aiulua Fanene of Tafuna High School; and Fagaitua High School's Penitito Fa'alologo.
However, Fanene is unable to play in this year's IFAF Games, because of his responsibilities at Arizona State University. The other three have confirmed to play.
Penitito, the Senior Linebacker from Fagaitua High School told Samoa News yesterday that he is very fortunate to have this opportunity, "I want to thank God for blessing me with such strength and open opportunity, to expose myself out there in this game of football, not only to represent myself and my family, but to also make a good name for my home, American Samoa."
Asked about how he felt when he found out that he was selected to the World Team, he exclaimed, "I'm excited, I never thought I'd be selected to such a huge competition before. I am looking forward to it, and the feeling I have right now to represent my family and country, is a very positive feed for me."
The 18-year old senior linebacker from the village of Aua is the son of Tomoto and Seilala Fa'alologo of Aua. He told Samoa News that his passion for football started when he was a little kid in the village, playing with his friends with a "small size milk carton, pretending that it was a football.
"And we would play, and that's when I started coming out to be a very hard player, because I look up to my idols in the NFL, and I think of myself being on that field, but that's where it started from. A game with my friends using the small milk carton as a football in the village and in Aua Elementary where I graduated from."
ON WORLD TEAM PRACTICE SQUAD
Listed on the World Team's practice squad are 6 local All Star players: Viavia Manuma, Justin Taimatuia, Ben Langford, Lawrence Danielson, Risati Mapu, and Alex Wilis.
These players will be featured in the practice squad before the game on Feb. 2, but they will have to earn their spot on the World Team Roster, by showing their best stuff in practice, to turn heads for recognition.
Purcell explained: "This is a good opportunity for these players to go out there, and expose their talent to the World, especially the World Team coaches. Even though it was only Penitito who is a confirmed player on the roster... these fine young players will most likely be on the field during game day.
"if they play their game the way they play it down here. Play smart, play tough, and finish strong, and they will most likely be picked to a spot on the World Team."
He added, "this is also a good opportunity for these players to be recruited, because most of the college recruiters will be out there to spot some good football players, and these guys will most likely be heading towards a great start once those guys over there see the way that Samoan football players play the game."
Samoa News also spoke to Viavia Manuma about his trip to the IFAF Game. He said, "I am excited. Even though we are signed up to be on the practice squad, but that can change as soon as I get on that football field, and have the ball in my hands."
The 18- year old running back from Tafuna High School, is the son of James and Makerita Manuma of Nuuuli. Viavia, is the third kid in the family to play football, aside from his two other brothers who are playing college ball in the US. Manuma was the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 ASHSAA Footballl League, where he lead the Warriors to a Varsity Championship title.
Coming out of Tafuna High School as the second Warrior to attend the IFAF games this year, is Justin Taimatuia who is Co-Defensive lineman of this year's ASHSAA football season. The 17-year old Taimatuia is one of the rarest hard working defensive linemen of the league, and with just a few weeks more to go, Taimatuia will try and prove that he should play in this year's IFAF Game.
Taimatuia hails from the village of Fagasa, and attends high school all the way down at Tafuna High School. He is the son of Joan and Fuatai Taimatuia, who are currently in Hawaii, and have met up with Justin, on his way up to Texas.
"I would like to thank my family for their big support, and to my church and Pastor Tuigamala and his lovely wife, for keeping me in their prayers, and to all the supporters out there, thank you very much."
Spicing up the Samoan mix this year for the IFAF games, is Kanana Fou High School's Benjamin Langford, who is a well known quarterback on island. The 17-year old Langford told Samoa News that he is excited to go back to Texas.
"I was born and raised in Texas, and I started playing football out there, but then I came here last year, and I've seen great talents in the players out here too, so I am happy to be going back to Texas as one of the Samoan players.
"I'm excited to play football again, and I'm excited to leave on our trip," said Langford. The senior quarterback out of Kanana Fou is the son of David and Evelyn Langford of Ottoville Tafuna.
Langford, who started playing for the Fa'asao Marist Crusaders during his first year in ASHSAA Football, last year transferred schools, and played for the Kanana Fou Stallions.
Samoa News apologizes to its readers, as Risati Mapu and Lawrence Danielon of Leone High School were not present during the interview with the players. However, anyone who followed the ASHSAA football season last year, and the Samoa Bowl games held on New Year's Day know the caliber of these players.