An odd-defying weekend

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MINGLING: With local children after rugby league clinics run during the B.S.L & S.C.O.P.A Back to School Netball Tournament.

MINGLING: With local children after rugby league clinics run during the B.S.L & S.C.O.P.A Back to School Netball Tournament.

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Ariano Taufao

Before the excitement of the election long weekend, I found myself in quite a similar atmosphere the weekend before.

Early Friday morning, I departed for the Mulifanua wharf with a boot full of deflated rugby balls, personal belongings lining the backseat, two passengers and a projector screen intruding on the lot.

We were on a two-day mission. 

For the first time, four schools on the big island would meet the Miss Samoa. For the first time, the current Miss Samoa would board the ferry. Once again, I would be partnering with the ‘NRL in Samoa’ to deliver their Wellbeing program, amongst other things, in Savaii. 

Our agenda: 

• School visits to Salelologa Primary School, Salelavalu Primary School,

Vaiola Primary School and Sa’asaai Primary School on the Friday; and 

• Participation in the Toa Gas Rugby League Savaii 9s and BSL & SCOPA Back to School Netball tournaments on the Saturday.

With a scheduled nine o’clock arrival, we hit the ground running with our first school visit, Salelologa Primary, living up to the big island tag amid a ‘go big or go home’ type reception.  Think ribbons, a newly paved road and lots and lots of flowers.

The day continued in much the same manner with receptions full of songs, wide eyes, toothy grins, and April - the NRL’s secret weapon in communicating to a new generation a simple message; “being active and eating healthy is important, and just like in any other aspect of life, e iai ala fa’asamoa”.

That is to encourage our kids to channel their natural athletic ability and in creating awareness on healthier and more cost effective choices like snacking on organic home-grown Fruit & Veg., rather than imported preserved foods that have seen a dangerous wave in child obesity throughout the world. 

The kids know their stuff. The future looks bright with answers being yelled out before questions are finished, and as the session closes, April leaves us with one last bit of insight; family support is key. Note to mum and dad, you hold the influence, an occasional “no” goes a long way. 

First tick off the agenda and Saturday morning arrives before the mosquitoes can get to the other half of my body. We stop over at Iva College for the opening of the inaugural “Toa Gas Rugby League Savaii 9s” before moving to Don Bosco High School for the “BSL & SCOPA Back to School Netball Tournament”.

Now there is a common assumption for tall girls; that we must all play a sport and if you’re from the southern hemisphere, it must be netball.  Let me tell you something, this is not a wise assumption. I have played sports growing up; they just never involved netball, which is why it was probably more appropriate I found myself participating in the NRL clinics more so than the netball games.

I made a keen observation that day; you are never left alone for long if you have a ball in hand and size truly doesn’t matter. 

Charming personalities were met in the form of schoolboys who schooled me in the position of ‘Goal Shooter’, and young girls who could grow to be pioneers in a new generation of women’s rugby.  It was an odd-defying weekend where appreciation goes to teachers, students, their families and the organisations for their preparations.  May God continue to bless each and every one of you in your works.

It definitely comes across as a hectic weekend on print but in true Samoan style, it felt more like a smooth ride ocean side. 

As they say, “You haven’t truly been to Samoa until you’ve been to Savai’i”.

 



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