Young sixteen year old Sally-Beth Sionetama from the village of Tuapa Uhomotu has been chosen as one of five female youth athletes aged between 15 to 18 years who will be going to the United States (US) on a sports scholarship program in June of this year.
Sally, along with her fellow participants – three from New Zealand and one from the Cook Islands – are being funded by the US Department of State and the US Embassy New Zealand for the 2023 Sports Visitor Program which will take place in New Jersey, United States.
The program will take place over a period of two weeks starting on 21 June to 5 July this year. It will include a football camp, workshops and meetings, sessions on communication, public speaking, team building as well as various cultural and sporting events.
Participants will be able to explore leadership, history of Title IX, female sports in the US, as well as build upon the Women in Sports campaign that the US Mission to New Zealand implemented in 2022 last year, which continues this year culminating with the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July/August 2023.
This morning, an informal assembly meeting was held at Niue High School to officially announce Sally-Beth Sionetama as one of the selected participants for the Sports Visitor Program 2023.
Although she was not selected, Viarn Motufoou was also a successful applicant from Niue High School.
Niue Football Association Committee including Jamal Talagi-Veidreyaki, Jiare Rigamoto and Tom Jr Misikea were present for the announcement at the assembly this morning.
“On behalf of the Niue Football Association, we would like to extend our thanks especially to Jack (Feleti) and his team for the ongoing support in our events in the past two years. These types of opportunities have come up and we would like to encourage our students to take part and to build your skills and capacity and also to explore outside of Niue these opportunities,” says Jamal.
Niue High School Deputy Principal Mrs Moira Jackson also expressed her gratitude to the Niue Football Association for giving the students such opportunities to take part in.
“Lots of fantastic and awesome opportunities out there. If they are notified to you, take it up and apply because you will never know if this chance will ever come again,” says Mrs Jackson.
The theme of the program empowering young women, girls and future leaders through sports is an important aspect of the program that has been emphasised.
According to a press release by the US Embassy in New Zealand, “the program provides timely discussions on issues such as gender equity on and off the field, paving the way for a critical year in women’s sports in the Pacific. Following the first ever U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit in 2022 and the Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership detailing the United States commitment to bringing people together, especially in support of Pacific regional sports development.”
The U.S. Mission to New Zealand has partnered with the New Zealand Football, Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee, the Niue Football Association and the Julie Foudy&espnW Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) for this program.