The decision taken that the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture be split in two with Sports and Culture paired in a second ministry, is a sound one.
Although there have been a few previous ministers who have leaned more towards sport rather than education, it has been obvious for some time that the education sector is by far the more important of the group for the people in Samoa. With learning promoted as a cradle to the grave series of experiences, every single person in Samoa is involved to some degree.
However this is not to say that sports is not important. It’s an area where many of our youth have the talent to go far and achieve success both at home and beyond our shores. In some cases, it also provides those much-needed jobs and careers. Rugby, Weightlifting and Boxing are the main sports that spring to mind where we shine on the world stages.
Our culture, in all its forms also deserves attention not only because it is our way of life, but it plays an important role by being a point of difference for us, setting us apart from all the other Pacific islands which are also after the all-important tourist dollars.
The few people who have grizzled about the government throwing some money into the bucket for the Lupesolia’i Joseph Parker title fight need to engage their brains.
Even without the publicity during and after the fight itself, just the announcement in the overseas media of Samoa’s support drew more attention to our little islands than all the Samoa Tourism Authority promotions have over the last many years.
And to put it all in perspective, the money put up for the fight is still less than that appropriated by the former Minister of Finance, disgraced Faumuina Liuga to tart up his office in the S.N.P.F. Plaza not so long ago.
In the case of the Lupesoliai fight, even if there is no big tourism spinoff, at least we will all share the pride that it is our man in the ring being viewed, admired and cheered on in New Zealand and around the world. Which is more than anything gained from the ex Minister’s office.
While the P.M. and government deserve to be congratulated for ‘seizing the day’ so to speak in this case and offering the support to Lupesoliai, the penchant for government getting involved in sport is not always something that we feel comfortable with.
Take the recent example of Minister Loau having a rush of blood to the head and announcing weightlifting in schools without a word to the Samoa Weightlifting Federation.
What a knee jerk decision and how rude.
Perhaps it was done as a follow on to suddenly announcing boxing in schools but it certainly didn’t win him any fans.
Particularly when weightlifting is already one of our most successful sports and one which unlike many of the 30 plus others, has had a regular programme going under the trees for years before any funding or facilities were made available from government.
On our front page today, we pay tribute to the Runner of the Year, Bobby Carney who not only won the Savaii marathon and other events, but it was the first marathon he had ever competed in.
We are also taking the opportunity to pay tribute to the man who is Samoa Events, Seti Afoa.
This year alone, Seti with some help from supporters and backed by sponsors ran 67 events for local and international athletes.
You could say he also did his bit for tourism too by attracting these overseas athletes to the events, many of whom have returned again and again. In addition they have competed in well organized races in the most beautiful surroundings.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Other sports such as golf, paddling and game fishing to name a few, have used this format of linking sports and tourism/culture very successfully.
We look forward to more sports associations, federation and administrators following suit.