28th June 2012
Samoa launch Rugby League academy ahead of RLWC2013
Ensuring the future of rugby league is in good hands, Rugby League Samoa is proud to announce the coaches of the two Toa Academy development squads: Sam Yue and Afa Lesa.
Both coaches are experienced rugby league players, recently competing in the Toa Premiership grand final for Marist Saints. The Toa Academy appointment gives the opportunity for senior players to give back to the league community.
"This is another chapter of a rugby league player's life, being a coach. Especially for me - in a development organisation like the Toa Academy is special, to be giving back to the young boys and developing them as senior rugby league players," Yue said of his appointment.
"As a Toa Academy coach I am excited and honoured to take this opportunity to share, help, coach and develop these boys to be some of the best rugby league players on the island."
Lesa also sees the appointment as an honour and looks forward to the challenge of stepping into the coaching role.
"It's an honour and a great privilege to be appointed as the coach for the Toa Academy. It means a lot to me, given that this is the first year an official academy for rugby league has been established here in Samoa.
"This is a good opportunity for me to showcase my experience and knowledge as a rugby league player and at the same time it's a learning curve for me as a coach."
The two Academy coaches lended their expertise in the early stages of the Academy program by visiting schools and conducting rugby league clinics alongside RLS Coaching and Development Manager Chris Newman.
"The development of rugby league here in Samoan youth is and will be massive and will grow tremendously. I am already seeing and experiencing it first hand with Chris Newman and Afa Lesa," said Yue.
"I am happy to say that rugby league in Samoa will develop and is here to stay."
Establishing the foundation of Samoan rugby league in the junior ranks has been an integral part of the RLS approach to developing the game in Samoa. The selection of under 16 player Klaus Stunzner Grey in the in the Toa Premier Squad to take on the touring NSWCRL side is testament to the success of the development program.
"Our focus is to go back to basics and develop the grassroots level as they are the future. A key result of the program is the selection of one of the U16 player Klaus Stunzner Grey in the Premier squad," said Rugby League Samoa President, Tagaloalagi Faafouina Su'a.
Some people think this is a bit too early for him but chances are rare and we need to pick the right time. Benji Marshall was selected in the Wests Tigers Premier side when he was only 16. Brian Lima was selected to play for Samoa 7s when he was only 16 and at school and two years later became the youngest winger in the 1991 Rugby World Cup."
The purpose of the Toa Academy is to build upon the skills developed in both the school-based programs and the highly successful Nigel Vagana Cup, as well as provide young players with an opportunity to play at an elite level.
Both Coach Lesa and President Su'a agree that the Toa Academy is the stepping-stone to the Toa Samoa national side and success at an international level.
"What I'd like to achieve is basically for everyone in the Academy to learn and understand the skills and techniques of rugby league wisely and for them to make it to the national team (Toa Samoa) in the future," Lesa said.
Su'a also acknowledges the benefit of the Academy to the wider community.
"We are not only looking at the future but we are creating the future. The Academy will definitely provide a pathway and opportunities for young players to excel overseas, which would contribute a lot to the development of families, villages, churches and would eventually link to the country's Strategies for its Development (SDS), and that is the bigger picture.
"RLS now focuses on its purpose with faith that rewards will come!"