A young Samoan footballer and a camp in New Zealand - a bigger deal then it sounds

Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:10 pm ACST

Contributed by: Michael Christiansen

AFL Samoa selected local rising star Joseph Falesa to attend the AFL training camp in New Zealand held in recent days.

Joseph, a 16 year old from Lepa/Lotofaga College, was selected to participate in the training camp because of his 'outstanding performance during the inaugural Aaron Edwards Cup' held in March.

Irrespective of outcome - attending the training camp would provide Joseph and many young footballers from the Pacific region the chance to experience training at an elite level; also an exposure to AFL overseas.

His coach in Samoa, Mr Lole described Joseph in these terms : "A good player is someone who is well prepared not only in his performance but also has good discipline; Joseph possesses both these attributes.  He has a very bright future."

For AFL Samoa which is now fully back in action - AFL Samoa Development Officer Gabel Stathis was very excited about how this opportunity would assist Joseph as well as the overall development of AFL in Samoa.

"The ... week for Joseph is going to be an invaluable experience for him and will give him a chance to train and play football at the highest level, this camp will prepare him for next year's 18's carnival."

As the only Samoan attending the camp Joseph becomes a example of where the game can take motivated athletes.  The camp is an important part of the AFL's quest to push and develop the game in the Oceania region.

AFL Samoa suggested that Joseph's age, turning 17 this year, might be a hinderance to his making the Oceania squad for the July tour of Australia.  The pre camp thoughts were more focussed towards readiness for 2013's Under 18s carnival and as an encouragement for other aspiring Samoan footballers to not just play the game but the potential for an international experience.

As it has transpired, young Joseph has been named in a 4 man emergency list of the preliminary partial squad announced.  Whether he ends up playing or not; it is clear that just being there has been an achievement in itself for Joseph and a minor victory in itself for AFL Samoa.

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