Plight of touch rugby

By Deidre Fanene ,

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SAMOA OBSERVER SPONSORED AWARD: Samoa Mixed Touch Rugby representative Filoi Eneliko with the Samoa Observer Sales and Marketing Manager, Helen Papalii, during the S.A.S.N.O.C Sports Awards.

SAMOA OBSERVER SPONSORED AWARD: Samoa Mixed Touch Rugby representative Filoi Eneliko with the Samoa Observer Sales and Marketing Manager, Helen Papalii, during the S.A.S.N.O.C Sports Awards.

The recent success of the Samoa Touch Rugby Association during the S.A.S.N.O.C Sports Awards has revived calls for the relevant authorities to back the sport.

More importantly, touch rugby needs a field they can call their own to avoid their tournaments and training for national teams being held all over the place.

In accepting the Samoa Observer sponsored Sports Team of the Year Award, coach, player and administrator, Filoi Eneliko, made a heartfelt plea to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi for a field.

 “Every time we go to tournaments and competitions we always bring home a medal,” she said. “However this is the only sport that does not have a field for our training and competitions. So I urge the government to please look into this as we are in dire need of a field.”

The call is echoed by the President of the Samoa Touch Rugby Association, Hobart Vaai. He is extremely grateful to S.A.S.N.O.C for acknowledging their efforts.

“As the President of the association, I am very humbled by the recognition,” he said.

“It was so unexpected. I never thought that we were going to get the award as there are a lot of other sports that dominate touch rugby but I guess it was time for us to shine. So I am proud and humbled.”

Mr. Vaai said touch rugby has come a long way. Over the years, they have had to rely on fundraising activities to send their teams to international competitions.

 “For example, the tournament that was held in P.N.G, we fundraised for about two and a half years to make sure that we have enough to get us to the competition,” he said.

“We had a fund provided from the government but we put that aside and fundraised more for the event. We did it and we managed to participate and we won a gold medal from that competition.”

Asked how badly they need a field, Mr. Vaai said it would be such a blessing should the government grant their request.

 “At the moment whenever we hold tournaments or trainings we will fundraise to get some fund to hire the fields that we use,” he said.

“There are a lot of people who are joining the association but we don’t have a field to run our trainings and tournaments. So this is a good chance to let the government know about our biggest need.

“At the moment we are so grateful to N.U.S for letting us use their field for free to hold our tournaments and trainings but we would dearly love to have our own field.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Vaai is optimistic. 

“We are thankful to everyone who supported us throughout the years and hopefully S.A.S.N.O.C will be able to have this event annually to recognize our athletes for the hard work that they do in representing us in other countries.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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