Samoa Begins Journey to World Cup Success in Brisbane
May 13, 2023 @ 2:45 UTC
Read about Samoa's Touch World Cup campaign and their plans for the future. Discover how Samoa plans to expand the game and create professional pathways for international competition.
Four years ago, during its Touch World Cup campaign in Malaysia, Samoa demonstrated to the world its readiness to advance to the next level by securing fourth place in the Mixed Open division.
Now, fast forward to the present day, and the Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup (APYTC), Michael Rasmussen, who was involved in Samoa's previous campaign in Putrajaya, expresses Samoa's enthusiasm for being in Brisbane and considers it the initial step towards achieving Touch World Cup glory in Nottingham next year.
"Samoa started its planning for APYTC by throwing the names of all eligible players in Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand in a pool," Michael explained. "We then sent out our first round of invitations and built off the back of that. We have plenty of depth."
Michael emphasised the importance of the APYTC to his squad, which was underlined at the jersey presentation the night before the tournament began.
"The jersey presentation said it all. The emotion of the parents when their kids got their Samoan jersey was incredible and underlines that this platform for the youth must stay. It will also help the development of our game in Samoa."
The squad for the APYTC has been selected entirely from New Zealand and Australian-based players. "The standards in Samoa are improving and in late May the Marist Nationals will be held and all our best local talent will play at this tournament," Michael said.
In August, Samoa will hold its nationals, and this will allow Samoa’s local talent to compete with 28 of the best players from Australia and New Zealand who are eligible to represent at the Touch World Cup.
Michael is aiming to represent Samoa again in the Men’s Open division in Nottingham, said, "It’s exciting to have international competition back. We need this opportunity and platform to finetune our talent for the big tournaments ahead. We need to show that Touch has a professional pathway and that it’s not just the other sports that will offer the opportunity for international competition."
Michael confirms that Samoa will have Men’s Opens, Women’s Opens, and Mixed Open’s at the 2024 Touch World Cup in Nottingham. "All up we should have teams in four or five divisions at least. We tasted success in Malaysia, and we want to go better in Nottingham.
“We are putting plans in place to have teams finishing in the top four in Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed Open’s."
As for expanding the game, Michael admits COVID slowed growth, but the aim is to get some strong weekly competitions going and entice the kids. "In a country obsessed with the rugby codes, plenty of younger Samoans are choosing to play Touch, as it is a great game and also a potential pathway into other sports."