The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has set the record straight in relation to claims made by the President of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation (S.W.F), Tuaopepe Asiata Wallwork, at the beginning of the week. The claims were contained in a story titled “Govt. decision slammed,” where Tuaopepe criticised the Ministry’s decision to introduce weightlifting programmes to schools without consulting the national body. Yesterday, Loau issued a response in writing. It is published below verbatim:
Re: Govt. Decision slammed; Published November 20th Sunday Samoa Observer
After reading Sunday Samoa’s paper and of particular interest the front-page article, Govt. Decision Slammed, I feel obligated to set the record straight.
Initially I am baffled with the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, (S.W.F.) President Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork’s reactions.
To assume that government or more particular the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, (M.E.S.C.) is setting up a rivalry weightlifting association outside from the Samoa Weightlifting Federation (S.W.F) is an illusion.
What MESC is implementing with my endorsement as Minister of Education, Sports and Culture is the revival of sports codes such weightlifting in the public or government school system starting from the grass root levels.
My vision as Minister is to expose our students to all sports as a foundation and initial point of contact to motivate them to pursue a sports code of their choice after graduating from school.
Who knows, there maybe a few undiscovered Mary or Ele Opeloge’s among our young school athletes who may pursue weightlifting as a career if they are exposed to the code at the grass root level.
That’s why as Minister I am all for grass root sports development without any ulterior motives attached.
Ironically, I also note for the first time to my knowledge and M.E.S.C.; that the S.W.F. is now planning to introduce weightlifting in schools including government schools. That is quite commendable and has my support because its mirrors the grass root sports initiative that I as Minister am promoting.
And should the S.W.F. need the M.E.S.C. help with their planned school development program, my door is always open.
At the end of the day, the target is to produce medal winning Samoan athletes who will hopefully end Samoa’s medal drought on the international scene including the Olympic Games.
As I have stated before, the grass root approach is targeted to identify future elite athletes to represent Samoa and should not be misconstrued as anything outside of that realm.
It’s on that note that I implore Tuaopepe to look at the bigger picture and set aside any personal conflicts that may deny opportunities for future Samoan sports champions.
Lastly again under no illusion will government intervene with the day to day sports administration because that is a matter for the Samoa Association of Sports & National Olympic Committee and its respective sporting associations.
Ma le fa’aaloalo lava,
Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio
MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SPORTS & CULTURE