For children around the world, playing on the international stage is little more than a dream. For local athlete Jason Si’i, it has become a reality.
As a member of the American Samoa national soccer team, the Lebanon resident has an opportunity to potentially play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“It’s a unique opportunity and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Si’i said.
Si’i moved to Oregon with his mother from southern California and found soccer early on, even if he and the sport didn’t agree in the beginning.
“I started in second grade. I didn’t like it at first. I made the commitment to finish what I started, and I ended up loving it,” Si’i said.
Si’i hasn’t stopped since then, playing varsity soccer all four years he attended East Linn Christian Academy and parlaying that into a scholarship at Western Baptist College, now Corban University.
Currently, in between international appearances and playing against the Seattle Sounders farm team in Seattle, Si’i participates in the Willamette Valley Soccer league.
While Si’i was playing locally, something he was unaware of was happening in American Samoa. It wasn’t until he saw the documentary about the American Samoa soccer team that he realized he could play internationally.
“I would have sought out the opportunity earlier, had I known I was eligible. I thought I had to be born there, not just have lineage there,” Si’i said.
With heritage in American Samoa, Si’i contacted Football Federation American Samoa and, after trying out and sending in footage of his playing, was selected to represent American Samoa.
“It’s something you dream about. FIFA is the highest level you compete at so to get to do that is a blessing to even be asked,” Si’i said.
Once Si’i reports for training for the World Cup qualifiers, they will face the likes of Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa for the right to play in the World Cup when it comes back around in 2018.
To participate, Si’i is taking a leave of absence from work since he will have to be gone for five weeks to play. In the meantime, an account has been set up at Chase Bank for the benefit of his family to pay the bills while he is playing.
Si’i has no access to the account himself and said all the donations will go to supporting his family while he is training to potentially qualify for the World Cup.