The vagaries of sport and Government interference

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Marj Moore

Welcome to the Toa Samoa squad and coach, Matt Parish!

The arrival yesterday of the squad for a week’s preparation has given sports fans and followers some welcome relief from negative sports reports and a chance to get excited about Samoa’s chances in the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.

Not only are the players themselves happy to be here, their coach is also.

And they are fresh off a win even if it was just against a N.S.W. Under 23 side from Australia.

A win is a win.

And if the sports pundits are to be believed and I quote,  “Expectations will be high for Toa Samoa at Rugby League World Cup 2017, with the nation arguably one of the favourites to not only progress to the tournament finals, but to potentially knock off one of the ‘Big Three’ in a World Cup.”

How refreshing - some good news about sport!

So what if there are no local players in the team to play in the 2017 R.L.W.C.? 

Our team, while they may be scattered around the world, are Samoans and we’re proud of them and their achievements. 

Just as we are of other Samoans who may not actually live here.

That’s the reality worldwide – the best league players are making names and money for themselves in the tough worlds of league in countries around the world.

On the local scene, Rugby League Samoa has not been featured to our knowledge as one of the sports where there are divisions and in fighting. 

Local league tournaments feature regularly and the president seems to be respected by the fans and those who nominated him for that position.  

In contrast, the last week has seen complaints in this newspaper and other media about sports administration and administrators much of it centred around money, funding, the lack of it and accusations about the misuse of it.

You have to have sympathy for our present national sports body S.A.S.N.O.C. who are at times, unfairly targeted for not having funds to dish out. 

Apart from the Olympic Sports who can apply to the I.O.C. for funding, there is very little in the kitty for the others.

But hasn’t that always been the way from years back?

Eighteen years to be precise.

Try 1999.

If the blame for lack of sports funding and development needs to be placed somewhere, it should be placed with those in the H.R.P.P. Government in that year, and ever since. 

That was the year when Government took over administering the funds from the proceeds of Lotto, a portion of which had been specifically allocated by the Australian organization for sports development. 

The organization’s name ‘Samoa Sports Lotto’, gives you a bit of a clue about its original purpose.

But instead Government, as they do, recognizing a regular stream of money which they had done nothing to generate but could get their sticky hands on to win friends and influence voters, took it over so that those seeking funds had to apply to them.

The name Samoa Sports Lotto quickly became a misnomer and any organization  with a story to tell could, and did apply for funding. 

Success in gaining funds was frequently dependent upon knowing the right people and having similar political beliefs.

Sports were basically left at the back of the queue and have been ever since.

Sports development? 

What a joke!

Oh, with the exception of rugby of course who have spent many years frittering away (for want of better words) donated money, taxpayers money, World Rugby money and any other money they could lay their hands on.  

And now we have the U.N. offices, allegedly shifting up to the misnamed  Tuanaimato ‘Sports’ Complex, to take over the buildings purpose built for sports.

But back to Toa Samoa.

We wish you the very best in your preparations and lead up to the Rugby League World Cup and where better for that to happen but here.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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