Combining sports and culture

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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During the ava ceremony.

During the ava ceremony.

The 2018 Marist Sports Week is officially underway with the Netball tournament that started yesterday.

Prior to the first ball being passed, the visiting teams were welcomed during a traditional ava ceremony at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.

It was attended by the players and supporters of the Samoa Brisbane Netball Academy, representatives from the Samoa Institute of Sports and members of the Marist Sports Club.

The Samoa Brisbane Netball Academy was established in April 2017 and they are here to not only play, but dig deep into their roots.

Samoa Brisbane Netball Academy Manager, Maria Palamo, says coming to Samoa to participate in the Marist Sports Week is not about winning, but for the players to understand their heritage.

She is thankful to Marist for the experience that will broaden the perspective of their 18 players who are here to learn about netball and family.

“We are not here to say we are from Australia, we live in five star accommodations, but we are here to look for ways to better our skills, take back with us as much as we can learn.

“It does not matter where you live, but to have a basic understanding of the language and the Samoan culture in order to identify that I may stay in Australia, but I am from Samoa. So we could appreciate what we have and that is why it is very important,” she said.

Maria says learning what the Samoan people here can do with limited resources will have a great impact on the players.

“The hearts of these girls at the end of the day is all about family. This is also the reason they strive to be the best players that they can be because their families are waiting back home for them. Their families paid for these girls fares,” she added.

Maria mentioned that Samoa Brisbane Netball Academy focuses on one family through netball and creating pathways.

“One of our strengths is having families involved. We are here for the experience. Then again and most importantly it is about learning, we are never above learning.”

Eiko Iva, one of the parents who travelled here with the team, says he is excited for his daughter to be here in Samoa to connect with her culture and to learn more about her family’s origins.

He says they are from the village of Aleisa and his 13-year-old daughter is the youngest player in the team.

The netball tournament began yesterday at the Tuanaimato Gym 3. It continues today.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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