21 Oct 2015

Sport: Fiji and Samoa hockey teams face uphill battle

12:16 pm on 21 October 2015

Olympic spots are up for grabs at the Oceania Cup hockey tournament in Taranaki this week, with the Fiji men's team just happy to be in contention at all.

The Fijians are ranked 64th and take on world number one Australia in this afternoon's opening match, with New Zealand and Samoa also competing for a spot in Rio.

Samoa, Australia and New Zealand are contesting the women's event, with Fiji not sending a women's team for financial reasons.

Fiji men's coach Shaun Corrie used to coach the women's team and says funding is a constant challenge.

"They have had some financial difficulties and we had initially pulled out of the tournament [too] but with the help of New Zealand Hockey and Oceania Hockey we managed to come so thanks to those two for helping us out. Hockey is a small sport in Fiji so getting finances is hard. It's hard for a lot of sports and especially the smaller sports. With whatever small money we can fundraise or that can get donated we make do but it's really tough".

Shaun Corrie says they're looking forward to getting underway against Australia.

"They are the world champs. We played them last time in 2005 [when] we really had just started playing hockey on turf then. We got a 26-0 scoreline - we want to improve on that, we've learnt a lot since then and we intend to improve the scoreline too".

The Samoa men's and women's teams both take on hosts New Zealand first up.

Samoa women's captain and fill-in coach, Peta Mualia Teo, says her team's been preparing for the past six months.

Samoa women's hockey captain Peta Mualia Teo.

Samoa women's hockey captain Peta Mualia Teo. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

She says Samoa's efforts to install turf pitches back home have stagnated so the next five days is a welcome opportunity.

"So far there's no progress. We're still pushing, we're still trying but we still haven't heard from the government. We've been practising on old tennis courts and also on grass so I'm hoping these girls will pick up. I brought them here so they could experience playing with the big teams so hopefully they will take something out of it and go back and it well help develop their playing as well".