Country snapshot Samoan Kangaroos
The islands of Samoa are located in the South Pacific Ocean, midway between New Zealand and Hawaii, and are known for their beautiful waterfalls, volcanic mountains, rainforests and pristine beaches.
Samoa’s 217,000 people live a communal lifestyle where respect for family is paramount. Most Samoans live off agriculture and fishing.
Their thickset build has seen Samoans excel at contact sports like rugby union, rugby league and even Sumo wrestling. But apart from being big, Samoans are also very athletic, enjoying Kilikiti (Samoan cricket), and in the east islands, known as American Samoa, a number of athletes have gone on to play in the NFL in the United States.
Famous for: Big blokes, traditional dance the Siva, siapo tree bark paintings, “lava lava” sarongs, traditional tattoos.
Australian football history
Believe it or not, footy got its start in Samoa ten years ago off the back of an international rugby match, when two schools played an exhibition game in front of 5000 spectators. Throw in some media interest, a live broadcast and the essential ingredient for any start-up sporting comp – brewery sponsorship – and the Samoa Australian Rules Football Association was in business. Operating as AFL Samoa, the league now has eight competing clubs.
Junior football started through a schools competition a year later, in 1999, followed by a national senior side which finished third at the Arafura Games in Darwin in its first international appearance. The side became known as the Samoa Bulldogs thanks to their adoptive AFL club, the Western Bulldogs.
Now the Kangaroos (reflecting a relationship with the Moorabbin Kangaroos), Samoa’s national team will contest its third International Cup next month. After finishing seventh in 2002 and fifth in 2005, Samoa will endeavour to continue their climb up the standings.
Blue and white stripes with a Kangaroo on front.
“Sneaky flair up forward” will come in handy, according to AFL Samoa development officer Michael Roberts. All well and good, but a woman with guts – I’m talking about head coach Milani Feaunati – may just prove to be the difference.
Samoa’s Mr Football
While Samoa is sure to have several influential figures that will come to the fore during the International Cup, there is no doubting that the pin-up boy is Samoa’s own North Melbourne star Aaron Edwards. How do we know this? AFL Samoa’s Facebook page features about two dozen photos of the boy in action for the ‘Roos. And while the official AFL Samoa website claims that the Samoan Kangaroos emerged out of the Moorabbin link, the Facebook gallery helps answer the question: ‘Which came first? Love for Aaron or love for Moorabbin?’
Samoans are naturals at footy because...
Rugby union, volleyball, athletics and rugby sevens has taught them to run, switch, tackle and bump. Oh – and these guys have no fear.
The hardest thing about playing football in Samoa
Getting used to no knock-ons and no offside. Apart from that – no problem.