The Lakapi Samoa have announced a National Provincial Championship tournament sponsored by Vodafone Samoa.
The announcement comes halfway through many local sub-union 15’s competitions including the longest established Apia Union which is halfway through their rounds of club rugby.
Union representatives were told in a meeting last Friday 3rd March that the NPC would kick start on Saturday 11 March.
A joint press release announcement on Monday by Vodafone Samoa and Lakapi Samoa was thought to have given sub-unions an extra week to prepare. “The National Provincial Cup is set to start next Saturday 18th March through to the 22nd of April 2023.”
However a corrected version of the release confirmed the NPC would in fact start THIS coming Saturday 11 March 2023.
“Vodafone is sponsoring the National Provincial Cup starting this weekend, 11th March to the 15th of April 2023. This will be a 6-week tournament and we are excited to see how this unfolds,” reads the correction.
The value of the Vodafone sponsorship and assistance to sub-unions for the National Provincial Cup was not made known in the press statement.
Grassroots rugby teams are run on a voluntary basis by local clubs or villages that make up sub-unions. For rural unions, the average player struggles with the cost of basic things such as rugby boots, transport to and from the field and strapping. There is also the opportunity cost if players forgo activities such as fishing and farming to effectively participate in competition.
For promotional purposes, Vodafone has placed Samoa’s reigning Miss Samoa, Miss Haylani Pearl Kuruppu as the face of the 6 week campaign.
“This year will be a great year for rugby in general and what better way to promote this than having our reigning Miss Samoa, Haylani Pearl Kuruppu as the face of the entire campaign.”
According to Lakapi Samoa and Vodafone Samoa, “This sport (rugby) talks to the future rugby stars of this country and it should inspire them to reach their potential and someday be able to wear the Blue Jersey in the global stage”.
“The sport teaches young people to be disciplined and be better human beings. It will encourage grass roots growth and motivate our young ones to embrace the benefits of sports.”
According to Rana Bose, Acting CEO of Vodafone Samoa, Vodafone Samoa has been supporting the Lakapi Samoa to identify and train grassroot rugby talents from villages to represent Samoa at the world stage.”
“Many of them are already in the national team and making Samoa proud with their performances,” said Rana Bose.
“We are proud to have Vodafone continue their partnership with Lakapi Samoa in our domestic tournaments becoming major sponsors of the National Provincial Championship. This 15’s tournament is important for the development of our up-and-coming players from around Samoa to feed into our Academy and pathway teams,” said Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, CEO of Lakapi Samoa.
Local Vailele player Miracle Fai’ilagi securing a full time contract with Moana Pasifika for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific Season is one example of the success of pathways for players.
While the Samoa 7’s team is currently made up of local players, the Manu Samoa 15’s has struggled to feature more than one or two local players in their final squads of recent years.