Small massive achievements

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Some important positive developments in rural education are worth celebrating. We say this because when it comes to secondary schools, the focus is more often than not on the performance and the achievements of the more popular affluent schools in the Apia town area. 

Whether its academic achievements or sporting excellence, we often talk about the likes of Samoa College, St. Joseph’s College, St. Mary’s College, Avele College, Robert Louis Stevenson School and a few others. 

We hardly hear about what other schools outside the Apia township are doing, let alone whether they are achieving anything.

But some recent developments both on and off the field involving schools in the rural areas, Savai’i and on the outskirts of Apia are worth recognising. Some people might say they are small and insignificant but we disagree. 

That’s because we believe achievements should be measured against the challenges achievers had to overcome to get there. And there is absolutely no doubt these schools have had to overcome mountains to achieve what they have.

Take for instance the contribution of Vaiola College in Savai’i to the recent success of the Samoa U18 team at the Commonwealth Youth Games. 

One of them was captain Sione Young Yen who clearly spoke about their passion as students from Savai’i.

“We had a tall mountain to climb as we are only a team from Samoa,” he said. “But we asked ourselves this, if youths from richer and more developed countries can ace any skill and win gold medals, why can’t we do it? Why can’t kids from Savai’i win it too?”

Sione of Lelepa and Avao Savai’i was joined by Frank Tato, Fa’amanu Siaosi, Alapesi Siaki and Klein Masoe.

 “The first surprise was having so many of us from Savaii in the team. Our parents and families were surprised as well. Despite having our hopes and dreams of being ambassadors of Samoa from Savai’i, we didn’t think it would happen so soon. But when we were given an opportunity, we did not want to disappoint.”

And they did not. Sione captained the Samoa Under 18 Sevens team to the Commonwealth Gold medal where they defeated England in the final. And now speaking as a champion, Sione said: “Don’t think lowly of yourselves. Be positive and work hard. You can achieve anything. That’s how we managed to secure the gold medal.”

What a wonderful message for all of us.

In Upolu, Leulumoega Fou College’s Under 17 rugby team recently returned from a tournament held in Wallis and Futuna victorious. The school represented Samoa in a one-week tournament involving Fiji, Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia where they overcame Fiji in the final.

Speaking to your newspaper, Seveali’i said the key to victory was their preparations prior to the tournament. He said their coach motivated them to do well.

 “I remembered our coach saying… this is your time, don’t waste it but keep moving forward. Remember that your talents are from God so use it wisely to get something good out of it.”

 Now coming back with the victory, Sevealii has a message for everyone. 

 “Never give up, train hard and believe you can do it. Anything is possible if you work hard and trust God.”

Well he is right. Anything is possible. 

And off the field, Faleata College has proven just that during TV3’s Spelling Bee.

Not known as a great school in academic terms, Faleata has certainly turned the table on its fancier opponents during the recent competition.

On page 5 of the newspaper your are reading, we are congratulating Faleata.

But why not? They deserve every bit of it. 

Faleata College Principal, Michael Grey, said the victory is a positive step for the school.

 “The pool of talents within this school is massive,” he said.

“The team went with two motives. They wanted to use the completion to learn and go up against the pressure of tops school they competed against. They also wanted to have true sportsmanship within their participation with the beauty of the game.”

“Faleata College never goes to any competition with a supremacy mentality. Faleata College goes to compete, learn the beauty of competing, as well as learn from the supremacy schools.”

Again, what a wonderful attitude about life, living and learning. Imagine how much better this world would be if we all adopted Faleata’s mojo.

What do all these schools have in common?

They are schools we wouldn’t normally pay attention to. But their rise to the top should be celebrated. Their achievements are not just fabulous milestones for the schools individually, they are positive signs for Samoa. They reflect well on the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. 

It means all that hard work to develop rural schools are not in vain. We need to encourage these schools and all rural schools across Samoa to continue this momentum. It’s a breath of fresh air amidst all the negative developments we are seeing today.

Have a fantastic Thursday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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