Samoa will play Scotland in an exciting two-game international test series in Perth, Scotland this weekend.
The series will help Samoa in preparing for the World Cup Qualifiers in April next year.
CEO of Netball Samoa Rosemarie Esera says the tests will also help boost Netball Samoa’s profile.
“A win will definitely improve our overall ranking,” she says. “And it can hopefully attract invitations from other federations. But whether it is a win or lose, our expectation is to learn and gain the experience to take our game to the next level.”
The team experienced jet lag after their very long fight to the UK this week but Esera says that even little things like that will help management see the characters of each player.
“It was a challenging flight. Having to overcome fatigue upon arrival and to get ready in a short timeframe will test them mentally and emotionally. It will also give us a good indication of where we’re at seeing this is our first tour since the last World Cup.”
She adds that she is proud of the girls for working so hard considering the little time they had to prepare for the tour. So little that they had no time to fundraise. Trials were held between September and October with only one camp in November before flying out.
Although the invitation from Scotland came at short notice, it was an invite Netball Samoa couldn’t refuse and they are extremely grateful for sponsors who stepped forward to assist like the Samoa International Finance Authority, the Samoa government and associate sponsors BlueSky, Samoa Commercial Bank and Tanoa Samoa.
In order to make the most of their UK trip, it was only natural that Ms Esera approach Netball Wales for a game or two while they are there. They gladly accepted.
Coach Frances Solia says the collaborative efforts from the board to the players and sponsors has been humbling.
“We went from literally no fixture back in August 2017. no assistant coach, no manager, no fitness trainer, no physio – to suddenly a full management team and International games in Scotland and Wales. I remember at the time we weren’t sure how we were going to pull this off in two months time, but we did!”
The former Samoa captain says she is excited and honoured to be coaching Samoa.
“The most important thing for me right now is to continue building the right culture – a healthy competitive one. We have a very sound squad and all our fixtures including Scotland, are a build up for us to the World Cup in 2019. So the immediate focus is to of course qualify.
She credits her family for their endless support.
“I’m so blessed that my parents, who are very old now, are able to see me now as the Coach of Samoa. My children who never saw me play but now see me as coach is all very humbling and I always appreciate what I have been given so I try to work very hard to ensure that I’m giving the best to the girls and to my management.
“This all wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors, parents, the netball community and their families in Samoa, NZ and Australia. But more importantly to the players who have demonstrated through their commitment to train, train, train and to be the best to represent Samoa.”