Against The Odds (A.T.O.) project is on the roll.
A.T.O is owned by young boxer, Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali.
He has partnered with the Marist Boxing and has visited two rural villages in Siumu and Falese’ela/Lefaga in the past month to promote the sport of amateur boxing as part of his A.T.O. mentoring project.
The partnership aims to promote not only the sport Ato has excelled in, but also inspire children and young people to live a healthy lifestyle and one of discipline, dedication and commitment to chase their individual dreams no matter their circumstances.
Ato’s project has helped establish a newly formed club and boxing programme in Sa’aga Siumu with the backing of Marist Boxing along with community leader Pastor Ula Mamea to help young people to be involved in recreational activities as opposed to risk-taking behaviours.
A.T.O’s latest village visit was to Falese’ela boxing where he helped run a boxing training clinic and gave demonstration of his skills for many local kids. Also on hand to assist Ato on this visit was an international boxing coach, Bodo Andreas, who was a guest speaker and technical advisor.
The visit was such a success that the club was invited to fight as the curtain raiser bouts for the youth Oceania tournament held at Tunaimato during the weekend.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Ato shared they are trying to develop local talents in Samoa; it is one way of giving back but also to watch the sport flourish.
“We are trying to develop the sport more here in Samoa we need to start from somewhere. It needs more encourage compared to the other sports that are more developed such as rugby. It just needs more time to develop.”
“It is rewarding to give back, we are in it for the love of the sport and we want it to flourish. I hope to see in the next Commonwealth Games that there will be more medals in boxing. I want to see the boys succeed as well.”
“I want to see local talents here develop and for them to stand on a podium at the Olympics, the Commonwealth as well,” he said.
“The dream is to recruit as many local talents to pursue the same path I took but with the guidance of myself and Marist Boxing to assist and inspire them to believe that anything is possible and they can achieve anything no matter who we are and where they come from.”
“That’s why I named my project ‘Against The Odds’ because it is not only my name Ato but also to remind all of us Samoans that we can rise above and against all odds and we can do anything just like the Bible says, ‘we can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’,” he added.
Though there are many challenges along the way with the lack of equipment, it has not stopped Ato and his team to reach out to the community.
He also acknowledged sponsors Toa Gas, Auto Saver and “Big boy” car wash Fugalei for their help.