Tavita Taumua Continues to Head American Samoa Soccer Federation Today

In Taika Waititi’s 2023 film ‘Next Goal Wins,’ Tavita Taumua is the head of the American Samoa soccer federation. He assists the newly appointed head coach Thomas Rongen to transform the national soccer team ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Tavita puts his reputation on the line to accompany the soccer team wherever they go to play matches. He even accepts doodles of breasts on his face after losing a bet made on a matchday. In reality, as the film depicts, Tavita is an integral part of the soccer system in American Samoa. Without him, the region may not have developed as far as the sport is concerned. Years after Rongen’s stint on the island, Tavita is still promoting soccer culture in his homeland!

Who is Tavita Taumua?

Tavita Taumua is the CEO and general secretary of the Football Federation of American Samoa (FFAS). When Thomas Rongen arrived on the island to train the national soccer team, Tavita accompanied the coach to ensure the betterment of the American Samoa team’s status in international soccer. The fruit of their efforts was the 2-1 victory over Tonga in 2011. “It’s been quite amazing really. We’ve had people telephoning us, emailing us, congratulating us on our first win. Getting that first win was a big thing for us,” Tavita said about the victory, as per The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Tavita acknowledged Rongen’s part in transforming the soccer team of his region. “He [Rongen] has made a big contribution. He has a lot of experience at a professional level and he’s made a big difference both in the skill level of the players and in their mental approach. Thomas has really changed the level of American Samoan football,” Tavita added. The coach and CEO also celebrated a 1-1 tie against the Cook Islands following their victory over Tonga. However, their unbeaten run came to an end with a defeat against Samoa. The loss marked the end of Tavita and American Samoa’s dreams to be a part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Despite not qualifying for the World Cup, Tavita sees their win against Tonga as an important part of his region’s history. “It’s something that we finally achieved. Not only that, but it’s for our reputation as well because before we were embarrassed about it, other countries in American Samoa felt like we were easy points. But ever since we had that win from the World Cup Qualifying, it’s been a wake-up call for us, that we can do better,” he told 1News.

Where is Tavita Taumua Now?

Tavita is still serving as the CEO and general secretary of the Football Federation of American Samoa (FFAS). He shares the duty of heading the federation with president Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet and head coach Ruben Luvu. His current focus is on building a state-of-the-art soccer stadium in his homeland. Last year, Tavita hosted the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) president Gianni Infantino in American Samoa. FFAS is receiving around $5 million to build the stadium in the region.

Tavita revealed to 1News that soccer is “developing” in his territory and ‘Next Goal Wins’ would put his team on the global stage. He added that his colleagues were “impressed” and “very happy to see something about American Samoa” while talking about the movie. Tavita, however, couldn’t recognize Michael Fassbender, who plays Thomas Rongen in the film. “Most people here, they don’t know these big stars. When people said Micheal is going to be in it, I said: ‘Who is that?'” he added to 1News.

Tavita hoped that the film would be shot in American Samoa. However, it was eventually filmed in Hawaii. “I was hoping that they would come down here and do it here, but that would be something different too. If they can properly incorporate the culture, I would rather do it here in American Samoa,” he said in the same 1News interview. Tavita still gets emotional while watching Mike Brett and Steve Jamison’s documentary ‘Next Goal Wins,’ which serves as the source material of Taika Waititi’s film. “Every time I watch the documentary, I cry,” the FFAS CEO added.

Tavita’s passion for football was passed on to his children as well. Along with Daru, Tavita’s other son Gabriel Taumua is also a footballer. “Mostly it is because of my dad, he’s the CEO of American Samoa. I have to do something to make him proud and that’s why I am playing soccer,” Gabriel said about his motivation behind becoming a soccer player.

Read More: Next Goal Wins: Inspiring True Story of Thomas Rongen