American Samoa – 68,000 Inhabitans
Supapo is also a lieutenant in the American Samoan police force and will complete 20 years of service in 2008. Her involvement with football came about because the two sub-stations entered local football competitions as part of a regime designed in the absence of a physical fitness programme. Police officers, their families, wives and relatives would all combine and enter as a club in the local competitions.
She says that in American Samoa, there are only three choices for young, people; a career in the US military, a jo in American Samoa’s tuna industry or trying to make it as an American football player. “There are nearly 200,000 people of American Samoan descent in the US military so this is a very real career option for our people. You neccl to understand that American Samoa exports only one product – tuna – so the other career option us to take a job in the local cannery for 140 US dollars per week. “Hie final option, if you are talented at American football, is to try and gee a college scholarship in mainland USA,” Supapo says.
In 2004, a census in American Samoa revealed that of the territory’s 68,000 inhabitants, only 11,000 were eligible to vote, illustrating the struggle that the FFAS has in selecting a team ro compete within the OFC. With teenagers aspiring to join the military, player retention is an even tougher prospect with most young people joining up with the US milirary shortly after their 18th birthday.
“The military option comes with a range of benefits including a pension, free transportation, medical and education advanrages and so the FFAS faces incredible challenges in building strength in football. Bur football has some advantages that other sports do not,” Supapo admits.