The President of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation (S.W.F), Tuaopepe Asiata Wallwork, is not a happy man.
The National Coach is agitated by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio’s decision to introduce weightlifting programmes to schools without consulting the national body.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, Tuaopepe said the Minister’s decision is slap in the face especially when the S.W.F has worked so hard over the years to develop the sport. The least the government could have done was consult them first.
“Weightlifting in Samoa is run by the Samoa Weightlifting Federation. That includes all the affairs of the sport,” Tuaopepe said.
“We are affiliated with the International Weightlifting Federation, Oceania Weightlifting Federation and Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation so we are very strongly affiliated and we are under S.A.S.N.O.C."
“Now anything to do with the development of weightlifting has to come to us only, nobody else.”
The President said perhaps the government might have been given incorrect advice.
“I want to set the record straight,” he said.
“Any development of Weightlifting whether it be in schools or clubs, or anything to do with weightlifting, we are the only federation that gives the authority to go ahead with their plans.
“This is the issue we want to make clear because they (M.E.S.C.) have already started initiating programmes in schools for the development of weightlifting without even talking to us first.”
Tuaopepe said the Minister and the Ministry should have had the courtesy to contact them first.
“What they are doing is good but everything has to go through the right channels,” he said.
“They should’ve called us or ask if we can work together or what not but no they just went ahead with their programme. Not only that but they are also saying that there will be students who will be representing Samoa in weightlifting which is a joke."
“Their programme will be a waste of time because if the Federation in Samoa does not endorse it, it will only be a P.E. subject."
“[And] to initiate programmes for weightlifting we have to endorse it because these kids will never get the chance to represent Samoa and that is what I want to make clear."
“They will never, no matter how much they try these kids can never represent Samoa in any international tournament even the school boy’s tournament in New Zealand and Australia unless it is endorsed and comes through us."
“Even the national competitions we are the only ones who has the right to run those competitions.”
The President pointed out that his concerns do not include other sports Federations but weightlifting alone.
“Let me give an example; if someone decided to take a team, they cannot compete clear and simple,” he said.
“They will be rejected from overseas unless we endorse it. Our ties between the Oceania and Commonwealth are very strong."
“All I have to do is write a letter to these people telling them that this team is not under Weightlifting Federation and they will be sent back so it’s a waste of time."
“This shows that they don’t care about our federation but they have to because through us is their only way to make their programme work and it is the only way that these kids will represent Samoa.”
He also emphasised that Weightlifting Federation is also conducting school programmes.
“We also have a similar programme for schools that will kick-start next year in February,” he said. “[And] from this programme we will filter some kids to select for A Junior Team to represent Samoa next year.
“We started it before we are reinforcing it and we will be using our top lifters and our champions to do this programme.
“We will identify within town five or six main schools to start this programme that includes, Avele, Leififi, Faleata, St Joseph, St Mary’s and Samoa College.
“We will have a monthly programme next year and the starting schools will start the programme for six months and then we start moving out to other schools.
“We can’t do all of the schools because we don’t have the manpower but at least we are making a start and we will also have a school tournament every month and that is our development programme for schools."
“The focus of this is to filter the kids to come through the system to start representing Samoa."
“This is the same programme that I did with S.V.S.G. I got three top lifters now that will be in the Samoa team from that programme."
“That is how successful that is and these three are ranked highly in the Oceania, world youth record."
“It will be called an Interschool Competition and towards the end there will be a National School Boy Championship."
“There will be meets every month and everything else it will be a big event.”
Attempts to get a comment from the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, were unsuccessful. He is in New Zealand for a Parliamentary programme.