Worst soccer team

How the world’s worst soccer team finally scored big

Jaiyah Saelua representing the movie

‘The stone of your team’

Jaiyah Saelua, left, representing “Next Goal Wins” on nyc Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament on April 19, 2014.Aimee Berg

In the red carpet, Jaiyah “Johnny” Saelua ended up being impossible to miss, in a white stretch minidress and tan pumps that elevated the 6-foot-2 athlete large over the audience. In Samoan culture, biological males whom identify as ladies are called fa’afafine, and they are both accepted and anticipated to fulfill honorable functions in society. The literal translation is “the way of the lady, ” or womanly. Saelua is fa’afafine, as is the woman more youthful brother.

Locally, Saelua stated, fa’afafine are very trustworthy and so are frequently expected to organize occasions “because men and women know without a doubt they are going to do the trick.” Since fa’afafine don’t often marry, they usually manage their particular senior moms and dads.

On the team, Saelua would make the initiative to make sure the uniforms had been in an effort.

“We have actually someone who manages that, ” she stated, “but we check. And attitude-wise, we verify there’s no stress between players.”

In the industry, she stated, “it’s my duty to place all that apart, be the same and play my heart aside for them, for my children as well as my nation.”

Saelua in the red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19.Aimee Berg

Rongen, the salty Dutch-born mentor whom responded the nation’s last-minute plea for assistance and had three weeks to get ready the squad for World Cup qualifier, recognized Saelua’s significant share.

“Jaiyah became the stone of your group, ” he said. “She obviously demonstrated each and every day that she belonged here, that she had been a starter. She had been physically powerful, psychologically strong, loved to contend. She used a broken toe. She played with a swollen leg. She played every min associated with the online game for all of us. And she played the way in which she applied — with heart, strength, great passion. She’s a fantastic teammate, true frontrunner, reliable, durable. She also had an assist on our very first goal within the Tonga game and conserved two belated objectives for all of us to obtain the win.”

Jaiyah Saelua on the red carpet on Tribeca Film Festival on April 19.After the tournament, Saelua gone back to the University of Hawaii at Hilo to accomplish the woman significant in doing arts with a focus in party — but had been informed she couldn’t start the springtime semester of 2012.

“It was my fault, ” she said, noting that she had forgotten to inform the college that she had been taking a leave to participate when it comes to nationwide soccer team. So she worked as a security shield to settle a portion of her student education loans with hopes of regaining qualifications for educational funding.

“Eventually I’m planning to take action, ” Saelua stated of her university education. “It’s crucial to really have the degree.”

She presently lives on Oahu with certainly one of her three older sisters and independently trains for soccer.

After 2015, Saelua intends to retire from the national staff to pay attention to her real transition.

She's currently withstood cosmetic laser treatments and hormone treatment but lowered her quantity for football, she said, “because I made the decision to play another season and don’t want to be too feminine regarding the industry. We however want to be in a position to play difficult and tough.”

FIFA does have sex eligibility criteria, but Saelua, 25, stated she's got perhaps not needed to go through any assessment.

The premiere marked Saelua’s first visit to nyc, and she ended up being especially very happy to see Nicky Salapu, since he had been the woman very first advisor, in center school.

The greatest comeback

Goalie Nicky Salapu after United states Samoa’s 31-0 loss against Australian Continent in 2001.Darren England/ALLSPORT

Salapu spent my youth on Samoa, about 100 kilometers west of American Samoa, and taught himself to play soccer at age 10 on a rugby field, contending barefoot with buddies and using an airless baseball with no covering.

Whenever village group needed a goalie, Salapu stepped in to the net using rugby footwear with huge holes, no shin guards no gloves.

By 2001, the nationwide choose staff was saturated in talent, but strict enforcement of a passport rule barred nonresidents from playing in World Cup qualifying, therefore junior large and senior school people filled the last-minute vacancies — which partially explains the 31-0 drubbing.

American Samoa goalie Nicky Salapu lies beaten regarding industry following the team's 31-0 beaten against Australia in 2001.Salapuat the Tribeca movie Festival on April 19.Rob Kim/Getty Images

“It was crazy, ” Salapu said, “I became the only experienced player, and I ended up being underneath the post. I happened to be trying the most useful i will to slow down the score. We understood that has been probably happen — but We never ever like to let my nation down.”

Salapu had been so haunted by that notorious reduction that each trip to home — for 36 months — he staged rematches on his PlayStation, and intentionally allow American Samoa win by about 50 objectives every time. As he upgraded to an Xbox in 2008, the habit carried on.

When mentor Rongen took cost associated with team into the fall of 2011, Salapu had just retired.

Bringing straight back Salapu “was huge, ” the advisor stated. “It had been a huge gamble. I had no idea when I labeled as him just how driven he would be, exactly how motivated he had been. I experienced one goalie … who might have probably done an adequate task for all of us, but [Nicky] had been the actual only real player from 31[-goal] reduction. Everybody else understood of him. He became a true determination — almost like we owe it to Nicky to get results hard and do something special.”

Eventually, the lone triumph over Tonga made Salapu a free man, emotionally. And area of the credit goes to his former pupil Saelua.

In final min against Tonga, Salapu ended up being out from the objective when Tonga took an attempt might have tied the game at 2.

“All of an abrupt, I was [thinking], ‘in which could be the basketball? Oh, my Jesus, I got beat, ’” he stated. “When I looked straight back, the basketball had been coming back [down the field], and I saw Jaiyah standing indeed there.”

She made the conserve.

“For the lady to greatly help myself in that moment paid down big time, ” he stated.

Salapu, 33, now life in Seattle, plays soccer six times a week in three leagues and works climbing cellphone towers to correct indicators for AT&T. He stated that he will play soccer throughout their life but that he’s through with national competition.

He nevertheless relives the Australian Continent match on his Xbox, though, except now he allows their 7-year-old son, Dylan, control the remote as The united states Samoa while Dad (as Australia) enables him to score relentlessly.

Veteran advisor learns anew

Thomas Rongen said that since the coach of American Samoa, he had to dispose off his standard approaches to teaching the video game and “just rolled along with it.” Ketchup Entertainment

Like Salapu, Thomas Rongen additionally lives on mainland today, in eastern Florida, in which he could be taking their first real hiatus after 14 many years playing skillfully in the U.S., nine years mentoring in Major League Soccer and many more leading the U.S. under-20 group.

Rongen during the Tribeca movie Festival on April 19.Aimee Berg

Whenever 57-year-old saw the movie for the first time (at an exclusive testing in l . a . three weeks ahead of the premiere), he stated, “used to don’t understand what you may anticipate. I had some trepidation. They shot 400 hours of video footage. However they translated it so well to the display screen. It’s genuine. It Absolutely Was so healthy.”

When it comes to challenge of coaching the lowest-ranking team when you look at the FIFA world standings, Rongen stated, “Clearly, we understood that I'd some work ahead of me. We put my conventional publications from the window and just rolled with it. We made them fitter, more organized, more committed. I also understood emotionally I could make great strides.

Nicky Salapu on red-carpet in the Tribeca movie Festival on April 19. Coach Thomas Rongen stated he'd to get rid of his mainstream methods to training the game as
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