The American Samoa Handball Association (ASHA) have had to develop ways to keep their national players focused as they continued training throughout the pandemic.
This has been done through a series of team bonding events. The junior national men and women’s teams competed in an outrigger paddling race. ASHA entered a men’s, women’s and a mixed team. Although the handballers had the youngest team in the race, the ballers did well with our women and mixed teams placing second. The athletes enjoyed their experience as it was the first time for many of them to be in a boat. The view from the ocean also presented an experience they enjoyed and will never forget.
In January, ASHA entered a mixed team of U18 national handballers into a dodgeball tournament. Again, the plan was to create opportunities for the athletes to bond as a team. The plan was very successful and it was evident as there seems to be a new and energetic team spirit within the group.
In January, ASHA also put on a ‘Play with the Stars’ tournament, where they mixed elementary school children with players from our 2018 Women’s Youth Olympic beach handball team and members of the current national youth and junior men’s and women’s teams. The event saw over 40 young players play and compete at a very high level, showcasing their talents to their parents, which for many was their first time.
Beginning in February the ASHA will again provide physical education classes for a local elementary school, for students of kindergarten age through to level 8. This marks ASHA’s third year of providing this voluntary service to over 400 students. Lupelele Elementary School students who graduate disperse to four different high schools because of it’s central location. The students therefore leave elementary school as experienced handballers – a great way to promote handball.
American Samoa’s Parks and Recreation Department will begin building an official beach handball court. The court will be centrally located at Lions Park in the village of Tafuna. There are plans to place bids on hosting future Oceania Beach Handball Championships, and the ASHA has the full support of many government agencies and departments.
Work also continues on a secondary court that was started in 2018 by the 2018 Youth Olympic Games women’s beach handball team at the Maliu Mai Beach Resort. Construction was halted in early 2020 when new management took over the resort. The new management offered their full support of our beach handball programs. The court will be official size, but due to overhead communication wires and other issues will not be accepted for international games. American Samoa Boxing President, Mapu Jamias – owner of the Maliu Mai property – has been very supportive of ASHA and continues to assist in the development of handball.