Samoa women’s football team looks to diaspora for players

The door has been thrown wide open for soccer players with Samoan heritage who believe they have the talent to represent the national team in World Cup qualifying games next year.

Trial games are being organised for male and female players in Auckland on August 23rd, when they will have the opportunity to show Samoa's head coaches what they can do.

If they're good enough, they could be pulling on a Samoan jersey in games against other Pacific island nations in 2022.

Former Wellington Phoenix star, Paul Ifill, who coaches Wairarapa United in New Zealand's W-League, is in charge of the women's team, and he is absolutely certain there are players out there who can help take Samoa to another level.

"There's no point in leaving any stone unturned," Ifill has told Pacific Beat.

"I've been in New Zealand long enough to know that a lot of Kiwis feel like they fall through the cracks. And we certainly don't want that to happen here."

Any player who can trace their Samoan heritage back through their parents or grandparents is eligible to represent the country.

"We're really trying to narrow down what we've got and what we need to make a competitive squad to see if we can do something unthinkable, like qualifying for the World Cup in a couple of years time."

Ifill believes the impact of the Olympic Games and the performance of women's teams like Zambia in soccer, and Fiji in rugby sevens, will have a knock on effect in terms of inspiring more women to seek to compete at the highest level.

The problem for Samoa is likely to be finding international game time, once they have identified the players they require.

But Paul Ifill is hopeful that something can be arranged before the World Cup qualifiers kick off, probably in Papua New Guinea, next year.

"If it means having a game in New Zealand versus New Zealand, we'd be all for that. I think it would be pretty one sided at the moment, but we'd be willing to give it a go," Ifill said.

"The people in the background are doing all the work trying to make that happen. So I sit here fingers crossed hoping that we can get some kind of warm up game that would be worthwhile."