4 Nov 2017

Sport: Samoa's only women's touch rugby team keen for new talent

11:36 pm on 4 November 2017

Samoa's only women's touch rugby team is on the lookout for new members, with plans to grow a gold-medal winning side in time for the 2019 Pacific Games.

The Titans Touch team competed in Tonga last year and are among 12 women's teams taking part in the Fijian Cup this weekend.

Player-coach Gabrielle Apelu is a former Manusina women's rugby captain, who has won gold medals for Samoa at the Pacific Games.

The Titans women's touch rugby team.

The Titans women's touch rugby team. Photo: Facebook/Titans Touch Team

She said the team was part of a club that was formed to encourage and empower women through sport.

"There wasn't even a women's competition until 2007 when it was entered into the Pacific Games and that's where our club was born out of."

"It's just an all girls club (and) after the Pacific Games where we won gold for touch a few of us girls were like we might as well get into the same team, come together so that we could encourage each other going forward from there..and from there on now we've been trying our best to get more young women involved," she said.

The Titans club have received a lot of support from family and friends but Gabrielle Apelu said the women's game was not supported but not to the level that it should be, despite being a unique marketing opportunity.

"Touch isn't so much a sport where it's very supported financially by any institution...we bring the medals but we don't have the same backing that say rugby union does or netball just because we're not one of the main sports, so financial-wise it's been a real struggle with us."

"Two years in a row we've had to pay our own (air) fares as well as fundraising for the rest of the team for accommodation and flights and all the incidentals that come with travelling obviously. Hopefully tides will turn soon, she said."

The Titans are part of a four-team local competition in Samoa, with the other three made up of women from various mixed grade teams from various clubs.

Gabrielle Apelu said they have 20 members but only half of those are active players and they are trying to boost their numbers with a firm eye on the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

"At the moment Samoa is struggling for quality female athletes on-island and I want to be able come 2019 to be able to provide quality female athletes for our sport for selection."

"They're definitely on-island they just need some assistance in joining, which is why we formed up as an all-girls side...they just need to the push to be encouraged to come and showcase what they've go," she said.

The Fijian Cup touch tournament runs over the weekend with a total prize pool of 50,000 Fijian dollars to be shared among the winning men's and women's sides.