By Leilani Katherine
Like everyone else, I really enjoyed watching the Rumble in Paradise boxing event that was hosted here in Samoa last weekend. When these international events come to town, it creates a buzz in the air, and as the big sports fans we are here in Samoa, everyone gets on board to decorate their villages, homes, cars and businesses with the colours of the team they wish to support.
Government and sponsors get on board hosting welcome ceremonies and marches and preparing excellent venues. Villages get on board by bestowing the best of the best sportsmen and coaches with matai titles. Individuals plan and prepare their supporters outfits and accessories for the event. Yes, we just go a bit crazy when these events roll into town!
One thing that bothered me about the boxing though, was the lack of a Samoan MC, or a Samoan announcer calling the game right alongside the American and New Zealand announcers. It’s not just common sense, it’s common courtesy. I mean these events are being held here, and we are the host nation, why does the host country not have an opportunity to announce the fight or the game?
Take the guy who was the Master of Ceremony(MC) at the boxing, for example. The organisers would have paid his fare to come over, accommodation, expenses and a fee for his services. Why couldn’t a local MC have benefitted from that job? With our minimum wage at $2.30, it would have helped someone here not only earn some decent money, but given them exposure to being the MC of an international event, thereby building their capacity. This would have been a win-win for all involved - reducing the costs for the event organisers while building the capacity of a local MC, who would be spending their earnings right here in Samoa, rather than a foreigner taking their earnings back to their own country.
It was like the Manu Samoa-All Black clash that was hosted here last year. It really annoyed me hearing only the New Zealand announcers calling the game, with not only the slant and favouritism to their own team, but even the visual coverage seemed to be more towards the All Blacks than the Manu Samoa players.
If there was a Samoan announcer on board, to me, it would have really made the game totally between the two countries, rather than New Zealand coming over to play Samoa and dominating the whole event. Having a Samoan announcer would have made the event more balanced, as well as having the ability to call a few things in Samoan for those of our community who were not watching the game but listening on the radio, or watching at home on TV, and who couldn’t understand the English announcers.
This is the country that hosted the United Nations Small Islands Developing States meeting in 2014 for 4000 plus participants. We’re not that under-developed that we don’t have our own announcers and MC’s that could do the job.
The Manu Samoa-All Blacks game would have sounded great having Sioeli Alofaifo from Samoa Quality Broadcasting Ltd calling the game right alongside John Campbell and the gang. Or Su’a Hesed Ieremia from the Samoa Tourism Authority being Master of Ceremonies at the boxing would have included us, the hosts, in the delivery of the international event and making it more balanced. It would have given our local boys international exposure and experience. They could have learned from their foreign counterparts as well, and developed networking contacts and opportunities for future events.
With so many students graduating from the National University of Samoa’s Journalism School, and gaining experience through our local government and private media - TV1, TV3, EFKS TV, Upu Mana TV, local radio and other forms of media, we are not short of educated and experienced announcers.
Once again, this event was a missed opportunity for our local but talented media and I hope that in the planning and hosting of future events, the organisers take this into consideration when deciding who they want to call the game, and who they want to be the Master of Ceremonies. Giving the chance to a local not only saves them money, but benefits our people by building their experience and exposure, and our economy too, because the money stays here. Come on, show some faith and goodwill and give our people a go!
Leilani Katherine is a free-lance writer who supports environment, climate change, social justice, cultural, local and regional issues, and enjoys playing devil’s advocate.