“We know he is the man for the job” – Minister Loau

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

This much cannot be denied. The recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of the 2019 Pacific Games, Falefata Hele Matatia, has a huge task ahead. 

With 16 months to go before the Pacific region converges in Samoa once more, his position is not exactly the most envious role there is. 

It’s the sort of role that will no doubt bless the 34-year-old Sports Administrator with a few more grey hairs but one that he would have given a lot of thought prior to applying.

The truth is that Samoa having limited time to prepare is a tough proposition but it’s doable. It’s just going to require an effort of gigantic proportion from Falefata and he needs all the help he can get. 

The time constraints, finances, infrastructure and resources are not just the only challenges. There is also the public perception and those awkward questions. 

Days into his role, there are people who have asked the question of whether the Government has made the right decision putting so much responsibilities on the shoulders of a young man. As annoying as they sound, people are entitled to their opinion. 

But if our humble opinion was sought, we believe Falefata shouldn’t have to worry too much about it since he has got bigger issues on his plate he should be concentrating on.

The history of how Samoa – and Falefata – have found themselves in this precarious position has been well told. Suffice to say, the Pacific Games was supposed to have been hosted by Tonga but they threw in the towel for financial reasons. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa saw and opportunity and immediately chucked Samoa’s name in the hat. The rest as they say is history. As it stands, the Government now has less than two years to find the money, approximately $40million if what we have been told is accurate, to do what is required to get Samoa into shape for the event. 

Again, this is a huge task. It’s a tough ask especially given the volatile situation with the economy and the Government’s finances but we know Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a man who gets things done and he will be leading the charge in terms of Samoa’s preparations. Besides, hosting international events is not new to Samoa and this country will need all that experience now more than ever. 

Looking at what needs to be done, a lot of the facilities are already in place. The biggest task perhaps is upgrading a number of them and in a couple of cases, rebuilding new ones where they are completely unusable. 

When it comes to competitions like the Pacific Games, swimming is a huge expense but at least the Aquatic Centre at Tuanaimato is in a good state. The recent flooding at Apia Park might pose a few headaches but given that it was recently renovated, it shouldn’t be such a task to get it ready.

 In terms of funding, Prime Minister Tuilaepa would have no doubt already sounded out his plans with Samoa’s donor partner, especially China. 

The truth is Samoa will not be able to host these events without the help of all these donor countries. We’ve seen this in the past and that is what will happen again.

As for Falefata, there is no need to worry about him being young and lacking experience. This is not about him. This is the reputation of a nation on the line and he will be well supported. You see, Samoa has committed to host these Games and the Government would do everything in its power to ensure this country performs above and beyond what’s expected of the host country.

By now, the new C.E.O. would have done his homework. 

We hope he’s already looked at the many failures of the last Pacific Games hosted by Samoa in 2007, especially huge losses incurred as a result of poor planning and corruption. If he can steer the ship clear and avoid those pitfalls, he should be alright.

In Falefata, the Government sees an energetic man with great potential to get things moving. We got that message loud and clear when the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, announced the appointment.

Said Loau: “The Cabinet and the Samoa Government has faith in Falefata and his ability to take on the vast responsibilities that comes with being the C.E.O.

“He was highly recommended by the panelists and given his vast knowledge in Sports; we opted for some new blood in the Pacific Games arena. 

“Falefata is young, smart, and energetic and given that we have just less than 16 months before the Pacific Games, we know he is the man for the job.”

We wish him all the best!

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless! 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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