2019 was a successful year for local champion Mens football side Lupe o le Soaga. The squad that hails from the proud village of Magiagi were once again crowned Samoa Football Federation champions when the league was halted early due to the recent measles epidemic. Lupe o le Soaga were awarded the championship in late November with a 14 win, 2 loss record. Coach Paul Ualesi said “It was a close fought league this year. Teams like Kiwi FC and Vaipuna put up a good challenge, but our boys experience, dedicated training ethic and team spirit were factors that enabled us to succeed”.
Lupe o le Soaga have now been selected to represent Samoa in the Oceania Football Confederation preliminary stage being held in Auckland, New Zealand from January 25th-31st where they will take on the champions from Tonga and the Cook Islands for two spots in the main stage of the OFC tournament held in early March in New Caledonia or Tahiti. Ualesi said “Our goal was to qualify for the initial stages and after that was achieved the boys have been on a strict fitness plan. We have upped the intensity at training so we have the best preparation possible to compete in the Auckland tournament”.
Lupe o le Soaga are no strangers to representing their nation in the OFC main group stages after also qualifying in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Coach Ualesi and his team though aren’t looking too far ahead as they have two obstacles in their way first in Auckland. “We know that Tupapa Maraerenga (Cook Islands) and Veitongo FC (Tonga) are formidable opponents. We respect them 100% and know we must work hard and play as a team on the day to get the results we deserve”. Lupe o le Soaga have a good mix of experience and youth in its squad with captain Andrew Setefano, Vito Laloata, Alapati Bell, Va’a Taualai and Lapalapa Tony leading the way for the younger squad members to look up to.
Lupe o le Soaga Football club is a success story. It prides itself on its accountability, respect and fair-play. Ualsesi says “As a result of our successes we have helped many of our village members, both male and female discover their talents on the football field and given them a path with opportunities to play at both national and international level. We also teach our youth respect and discipline and have worked hard to address violence within the community”.
Looking forward to the tournament though Ualesi said “The hardest part in attending these Oceania tournaments is the financial strain. Although we appreciate the assistance from the Samoa Football Federation and Oceania Football Confederation, we still require funding to give us the best opportunity to progress to the main stage. It is very expensive and our management team have been working hard to organise the funds for our trip”.
By Scott McLeod