11 January, 2018. Samoa. – Back from the Samoa Cup with an impressive third place finish, the Under-16s women of Samoa West Side basketball are already looking forward to the 2019 competition.
Melinda Brown Ah Chong accompanied Samoa West Side to Auckland, New Zealand for the fourth annual Samoa Cup Basketball Tournament that took place Jan. 3-5 at the Pulman Arena in Takanini. Divisions include: Under-16, Under-19 and Open teams.
The purpose of the Samoa Cup is to unite Samoan Players and to compete against each other for a team to participate in upcoming FIBA events.
It was the first time Samoa West Side participated in the tournament and for most of the young women, their first time playing in an international basketball tournament.
“Most of these girls are netball players but have learnt and trained within less than three short months and then to come third overall after Tonga and New Zealand,” she explained. “It’s a huge achievement in and of itself.”
Samoa West Side took an open women’s team from Samoa Westside and an Under 16s women’s team from Samoa Westside.
“This was the first time that Samoa West participated and had the oldest women and member participation with Isabella Ah Chong, who is also the coach of the Under-16s team,” Ah Chong explained.
While women’s basketball is picking up interest in Samoa, Ah Chong says the biggest challenge “is that we don’t really have a public facility that can cater to the sport.”
“National games in Samoa are held at Apia Park where the facilities are damaged and there is no electricity so we just make do with what’s there,” she said. “Not to mention it is only one court.”
Melinda says the results from New Zealand, proves that Samoa possesses “so much raw talent” in our young women.
Westside Basketball runs competitions during the year to encourage participation and its main competitions are held in June during Independence Day and in September during the Teuila Festival.
“Now that Westside has participated in the Samoa Cup and come away with a phenomenal result especially for our young women, this is something we are definitely going to aim to do on a yearly basis and focus on developing talent for continuous participation in this international tournament,” said Melinda.
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