The cost of a Champions League trip
This is how much going to the OFC Champions League costs, according to the President of Pago Youth.
Pago Youth have been American Samoa’s best team over the last few years, and with that comes a trip to the OFC Champions League qualifying stage.
They were supposed to take part in the 2020 qualifiers but withdrew due to the measles outbreak in the Pacific at the time. The tournament was later cancelled due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, after the conclusion of the group stages.
Prior to that the team from the unincorporated territory of the United States that is American Samoa, had gone to the last two qualifiers, in 2018 and ‘19.
Pago Youth club President Sila Samuelu tells Football in Oceania what it’s like being a president for an amateur side in a country where football is a minor sport.
“Being a president is a lot of work,” he says.
“Maintain your team”
As Pago Youth is an amateur team, Samuelu works as a teacher on the island as his day job.
“You have to make sure you maintain your team,” he says of the President job.
Not all of his work is based around the senior team with the American Samoa Football Federation putting on plenty of activities for kids, where the club takes part.
But when it comes to the senior team, the OFC Champions League is their big shop window to the world.
Football in Oceania have previously written about the OFC footing the bill for airfares for teams, but the expenses still stack up for a trip to the qualifiers.
“I have been to the qualifying stages three times, and our expense goes up to 15.000 USD per trip,” Samuelu says.
He says the get tournament prize money for their tournaments.
Samuelu admits the coronavirus has made it more difficult for Pago Youth.
“This pandemic delays everything we have prepared for, and it’s hard to control players going to other sports,” Samuelu says.
He says flag football (American football without tackling), basketball and softball are the sports they compete with players for.
The FFAS Senior League doesn’t start until August and without the OFC Champions League this winter, there’s a lot of time without football for the players.