Strange decisions in sport

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Marj Moore

When Samoa won the bid to host what was the then XIII South Pacific Games in 2007, it was seen as a great coup for the country.

After all it had been in 1983, a long 24 years, since they had had the honour as the host country then known as Western Samoa.

Participation in the Games had also grown steadily from early beginnings in Suva, Fiji in 1963 where just over 600 athletes competed. 

With fresh memories of the 2003 Games, again held in Suva Fiji, Samoa was determined to measure up and even surpass that event by hosting the “biggest and best”.

And some would claim they did just that.

Given that the number of athletes participating was double those from 1983 (5,000) and with more than double the number of sports being offered for competition (33), it was obvious that a huge building programme of facilities was called for. 

With limited space at Apia Park, Tuanaimato was designated for many of those 33 sports.

Much was made of the “legacy” of the Games which would be the magnificent facilities including grounds, buildings and equipment.

Suddenly sports which had not existed, let alone been active for years, came out of the woodwork in an attempt to be part of this wonderful occasion and to acquire facilities. 

These facilities would promote the further growth of sports in our country and the emergence of elite athletes.

Fast forward to the present day and we see that that particular dream has only been partially realized.

There have been few successes and many failures.

If successes are measured by regular use of facilities by the sports they were built for, perhaps half of the venues might qualify.

The article in the Sunday Samoan about the rundown fields and buildings constructed for softball and baseball, is a case in point.

Neither sport has been visibly active in recent years in terms of local competitions and according to the Samoa Sports Facilities Authority, they have not paid rent despite S.S.F.A. providing some maintenance.

The only redeeming feature is that the facility will now be used to launch the Samoa Sports Academy.

The article on the front page of today’s edition about the 20million tala  costs of maintaining the Aquatic Centre in particular, is sobering. 

Although the costs are covered by China, it begs the question of why indoor pools as opposed to outdoor pools were built in the first place in a country with a climate such as ours?

Fijian officials who had hosted the Games four years earlier had advised Samoa that there was no necessity for an indoor facility with the maintenance costs just one prohibitive factor.     

And given that swimming and diving are not major sports in Samoa and there appears to be little interest by the Swimming Association to try to stage events here and attract swimmers to meets here, the cost surely outweighs the interest; particularly so when we have one of the biggest swimming ‘pools’, the Pacific Ocean lapping our shores.

Then there are the low profile, but popular sports.

Touch is an example; a non-contact sport played for the game alone but also by many athletes, men and women, who like to keep fit for other sports such as netball, rugby and rugby league.

As well as regular local competitions, Touch often hosts Business House tournaments and have had success at regional tournaments.

So why, after certain cricket officials had a meeting with government, were the Touch fields taken and assigned to the 11 person game?

© Samoa Observer 2016

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