Association provides platform for former Manu Samoa players

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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MANU SAMOA OLD BOYS: Some members of the Manu Samoa Old Boys Association who gathered to farewell Tiumalu Dylan Mika.

MANU SAMOA OLD BOYS: Some members of the Manu Samoa Old Boys Association who gathered to farewell Tiumalu Dylan Mika.

The Manu Samoa Old Boys Association (M.S.O.B.A) is looking to grow its membership this year.

The incorporated society based in New Zealand plans to answer the call for a much needed platform for ex-players of Manu Samoa to make a positive impact on the welfare of ex-players as well as provide a platform to voice their support and concerns. 

The Vice –chair for M.S.O.B.A, Tapuai Faamalua Tipi, is in Samoa on a trip to pay the association’s respects to the Grey family following the loss of La’auli Alan Grey. 

The passing of former All Black and Manu Samoa player Tiumalu Dylan Mika and ‘Father of Samoa Rugby’ La’auli has moved the M.S.O.B.A to increase their efforts in strengthening the numbers of their association. 

Tapuai encourages former Manu Samoa rugby players to join their association at a time when the prestige and honour in Manu Samoa Rugby is in need of a restoration according to the Vice Chair.

“We want to put back some mana and pride into the community,” he said. 

“We got other teams other sports coming through now, we got Toa Samoa and every time we hear of the Manu Samoa, it’s always about having to justify where the money has gone, they have got to clean it up.”

“We have got a platform where Manu Samoa remembers the beauty of being Manu Samoa and how we are looked upon by our community, it’s like we are role models and our job is to serve –that’s the essence of our Manu Samoa association. 

“We are here to serve each other and our communities through rugby and serve as ambassadors for the many platforms that advance our players coming into the sport and more importantly for the welfare of the ex-players.” 

Tapuai points out that currently players have the Pacific Players association that represents them welfare while they are playing but that a forum for the wellbeing retired players does not exist.

“There are a lot of our ex-Manu Samoa players who are now tuning into the association. There was a huge gap that we noticed during times when everyone would congregate together after an incident for example bereavement. That’s how it all started - It started with the passing of  Fatialofa. We got the Pacific Players Association but there is no forum for the Old boys which is why we got together – myself and the late Dylan Mika together with To’o Vaega and Mark Burtwhistle and some of the old boys got this Asosi started.”

At the heart of the Assoication’s mission is to support retired Manu Samoa players who are transitioning into what Tapuai refers to as “real life” once they have moved on from rugby. 

Often retirement brings about another set of challenges for ex-rugby players. To support that theory, Tapuai who is also a Professional teaching Fellow at the Auckland University wrote a thesis titled “When the Sun goes down” about that very subject.

“I wrote a thesis on professional rugby players transitioning from professional sport to reality that’s how it all started. I did qualitative interview with the boys who were transitioning from rugby.  This is the fundamental mission of M.S.O.B.A. is to help those players who are transitioning and we are about future proofing.”

“My thesis was about players welfare after the life of rugby I called it ‘when the sun goes down’ when you’re playing the sun is shining but then after that there’s a sense of nervousness. People who know that their retirement is close, they start thinking ‘what do I do’ - they buy businesses. Sometimes those businesses have no idea of financial literacy, they only learn just as they go through the process of purchasing a business but their shortfall is not knowing how to run a business.

“Why I got involved. The vacuum is all of us come into this cash so to speak and then we misguide ourselves or take bad advice from people who give you all kinds of scenarios. A lot of guys have said that they learn as they go and some have crashed really hard and others just wing it. Financial literacy is currently being carried through in the national players association for the current players but here we are looking at the ex-players because once you’ve finished playing – you’re on your own.”

The current membership of M.S.O.B.A. are made up of ex-players in different professions whose goals are to increase and capitalize on their corporate network for the advancement of Manu Samoa Rugby,

“You know our old boys just wonder what this is all about. It’s about the welfare of our players but also giving back to our community that’s the core business. 

“Looking after ourselves as ex-players, networking with each other but also giving back to our community via rugby and different projects and being in the fore front of our schools in New Zealand and here in Samoa.”

“We’d like to have a voice where we can state something to Samoa Rugby Union but we are separate from them. We support them but we can also be a platform that can weigh in and respectfully say that’s not the right auala (pathway). 

“S.R.U have got a task to do and that’s to get the Samoa team into the world cup - the M.S.O.B.A. can assist in helping with funding right across the board.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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