The most senior player in the American Samoa netball team competing in the Pacific Games is 65 years old.
Mrs Maria Perelini has another team role as the coach.
As a US territory, American Samoa prefers basketball which is their national sport.
The challenge for coach /player Perelini, is to use the Pacific Games as an opportunity to promote netball in American Samoa, hence the reason she has decided to turn out for the team.
She wanted to encourage the young people in American Samoa to take up netball.
“ Age does not matter to me but I’m thankful for the golden opportunity to play in the Games.,” Perelini said.
“I also want to be a good example to the young people in American Samoa in taking an interest in netball”
Perelini said she thoroughly enjoyed playing against the young players of the other teams in competition.
The American Samoa team has lined up a mix of players ranging from 49, 45 and 30 years old, to the youngest at 14 years old.
Team manager Ana Koloi Atoa pointed out that netball is not an American sport and so it’s a struggle to promote the sport in the territory.
The Government of American Samoa had helped netball interests in the territory by providing a netball court. American Samoa also used to send teams to the Pacific Games.
Atoa said the game was dormant for more than ten years before the interests to revive it was expressed by women who used to play netball.
So they sought assistance from government. Now they have two courts one at Pagopago and the other at Tafuna.
Currently underway is a mixed league in which grandmothers, their children and grandchildren are taking part.
Atoa explained American Samoa netball is part of the Pacific Games because it is the most appropriate thing since it is held in its closest neighbour.
Their team are all home grown players Atoa added.
“ All the players are from Tutuila. There is no one from overseas. Four of the team are veteran players. Half of the team are new players. Some are mothers and daughters.”
Atoa admitted their team was not a strong team and they did not expect to put any points on the scoreboard but were surprised that they did.
Atoa is appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the Pacific Games and vowed to do more to promote netball in the territory on their return.