Football Federation Samoa (FFS) have been active promoting women’s football participation through their monthly Soccer Sister’s Festivals.
The growth of the women’s game and active involvement in the round-ball game are, of course, primary drivers in the program. The weekend, however, saw the event take on special meaning by bringing females together to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
This month’s festival was used as a tool to educate the participants about breast cancer and its causes as well as the fight against breast cancer in Samoa. “We are in the month of breast cancer awareness; therefore it’s an excellent way for us to promote women’s football and work together to promote cancer awareness through health and fitness activities,” stated FFS Women’s Football Development Officer Lynette Faaiuaso.
FFS held the first ever Soccer Sisters Festival in 2012 to attract girls and women interested in playing the sport. After three festivals were held the FFS was able to kick off its first ever Girls Youth League, which is now in its second season. The participation of women and young girls in the festivals and in the league is also a testament to the efforts of FFS to address gender issues and to encourage girls and mothers of all ages to socialise, keep fit and enjoy football.
With the support of the FIFA Women’s Football Development program me and the Oceania Football Confederation, the FFS have been able to give out pink FIFA t-shirts and wrist bands to all participants. The participants were also using brand new equipment donated by FIFA for the festivals including bibs, balls, goals and markers.
The Festival started with an opening prayer by Rev. Muao Su’a followed by remarks from the Cancer Society President Leiataua Daryl Clarke. The Hon Jackie Frizelle; the NZ High Commissioner, delivered the keynote address stating: “I am a football mum who has yelled from the sidelines for the last 15 years and I am also the big sister of a much loved and brave women who is presently fighting against cancer.”
She also shared four things that football has taught her about living with cancer. “Firstly team work; secondly, love what you do and take football as your passion; thirdly, never give up. I have watched enough football games to know that anything can happen right up until the final whistle and seen many games won and lost in the last minute. Lastly is to stay healthy, you are on the right path here today; look after your body through good nutrition and exercise.”
Following the opening ceremony, and some cultural entertainment, all the participants and spectators alike took part in a ZOVA session (football’s version of Zumba).
The women and girls were then split into five age groups and coached in football activities and small-sided games. The festival closed with prizes and giveaways being handed out to the participants by FFS and the Under 17 national team final trials kicking off for all to watch.
The Oceania FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 qualifiers will be held in December in Auckland.