28 Apr. 2021
The first phase of the 2021 National Street Handball Championships organised by the American Samoa Handball Association (ASHA) took place last week, on 17 and 18 April.
The ASHA created a three-phase National Championship of the already popular sport, to be played on grass, each concluding on important holidays like Flag Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, with the business end of the tournament set for 1 June, the Independence Day of American Samoa.
Adapting the rules from street handball, which stipulate no physical contact, no dribbling, with a maximum of three steps and the goalkeeper taking part in attack, players enjoyed a plethora of competitive games, returning to their peak after a lengthy lay-off period.
With 40 young athletes showing up at ASHA’s ‘Handball for Fun Program’ and training in the past two years, they joined several Under 17 players and divided into four teams.
The most exciting game was the one between The Wolves and Team Malosi, concluding the weekend. Facing a sweep of their opponents, The Wolves had only four players to count on, yet they dominated the first half, 14:9. However, Team Malosi bounced back admirably and won the second half, 11:7. Therefore, a shoot-out was needed and Team Malosi won 3:2, taking their second win of the competition.
Phase one of the competition concluded on 17 and 18 April, with The Wolves leading the pack with a 5-1 record, followed by The Mighty Lupe (3-3), Team Malosi (2-4) and The 300 (1-5).
However, it was not plain sailing for the Wolves in the play-offs. The leaders of the competition took a compelling 2:0 win against The 300 in the semi-finals, with Team Malosi qualifying for the final after a 2:0 win against The Mighty Lupe.
The final day, though, was full of surprises. The 300 took a superb 2:0 win against The Mighty Lupe, as everything was set for the big showdown between The Wolves and Team Malosi in the final.
Having already defeated the favourites in the first round, third-seeded Team Malosi was again superb against The Wolves. The game was a battle between two of the league's high scorers: The Wolves’ Dianne Loe and Team Malosi’s Memory Viliamu, which seemed to be impossible to stop at times.
Team Malosi won the first half, 13:11, while Dianne Loe scored the golden goal in the second half to ensure a shoot-out, after The Wolves edged a 9:8 lead.
After two failed attempts by The Wolves and one miss from Team Malosi, Viliamu scored to give Team Malosi a 2:1 lead with one shooter per team remaining. Dianne Loe scored a two-point goal-to-goal shot to turn the game on its head. However, Team Malosi tied the score, sending the shoot-out into another round.
Ultimately, it was Team Malosi who won the game 4:3, winning the phase one of the ASHA’s 2021 National Street Handball Championships, through Ina Ioane, assisted by the superb Villamu.
“I am very proud and happy with our staff and players. These young athletes are a joy to coach. We have a consistent group of athletes from the surrounding area representing six schools, training and playing on a regular basis and almost all of them are hoping to represent our nation when international competitions open up again. I have no doubt that they will be ready,” said CJ Floor, ASHA President.
Team Malosi’s Memory Viliamu was this phase’s top scorer with 54 goals, while Jason Bai (The Mighty Lupe) was named The Most Improved Player and the competition’s best defender. Viliamu was also named the tournament MVP, while the top sportsmanship awards for each team went to Ina Ioani (Team Malosi), Jason Bai (The Mighty Lupe), Monalisa Alaipalelei (The 300) and Amelie Chen (The Wolves).
The second phase of the 2021 National Street Handball Championships will take place on the Memorial Day weekend, on 29 and 30 May.
For more information, visit the ASHA Facebook page.