An open letter to the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union

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Gold Coast local Ethan Lolesio made his debut for Samoa.

Gold Coast local Ethan Lolesio made his debut for Samoa. (Photo: Stephen Tremain / Greenandgoldrugby.com)

To the Honorable and Distinguished Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s, who is a merciful man of integrity and loved and honored by us all. 

We acknowledge you for all what you have done for Samoa and the growth and redevelopment for a greater Samoa.

I would like to acknowledge you again and Honor you always and sorry for sending this letter, but I believe for the next generation coming to Manu Samoa 20s outside of Samoa they need to be looked after not treated like SCRAPS.

We are writing this letter from a parent’s point of view at the experiences we had with the Under 20’s Manu Samoa Management and Coaching Staff, from the General Manager down to the Physio.

Our son Ethan Edward Lolesio trialed in Brisbane in February 2017 and he was then selected to go to Samoa for a Rugby Camp and final trial so we had to be in Samoa on the 18th March 2017.

Initially we got great information from Kolose including a timeline, we were told that he was going to stay in a facility and be looked after for that week and that his airfare would be reimbursed.

However, the week he was due to fly out we were then told that it would be preferable that he stay with family.

We do not have family in Samoa as my parents have passed away and we don’t know the rest of the family. So, my wife and I decided to fly with Ethan and stay the week with them.  Ethan was selected at the final game and we were told that he then had to stay there until the Oceania Cup on the Gold Coast.

So, we left Ethan in the care of the Manu Samoa Under 20’s Management and Coaching staff thinking that he is in safe hands and that they will look after him.  He was staying at the High Performance Unit so we were happy with that.

However, that was short lived…we soon found out there was no hot water and no kitchen facilities and the basics like toilet paper was not provided and there were no toilet seats.

Not all the boys stayed at HPU only the boys who had no family to stay with.  

However, the Coach JP we were in contact with him and he was our only life line to what was happening with our son, JP looked after the boys and took them to resorts for swimming and to Church…We were extremely happy about the care that JP had with our son Ethan and we could rest easy.

However, when the team arrived in Brisbane for the Oceania Cup all the players had boils on their bodies and one player needed to go straight to hospital.

Remember the only contact we had had in Samoa was with JP not once did the Manager Ulu pass on any information and to my knowledge did not even have an email address.

Ethan had six boils and had received medical treatment in Samoa at my request.  The manager did not even take it upon himself to source medical treatment and that is his job as Manager to look after the welfare of the players.

While the team played in the Oceania Cup they stayed at Runaway Bay Sports Complex, where my family provided fruit and water every other day for the team, and water containers etc.  As the Manager had nothing organized.

They arrived back in Samoa on Monday 8th May and the boys that were staying at HPU were just dumped there with no food and water for two days until I text messaged the General Manager Brian HOPLEY on the 9th May 2017 to inform him that the boys had not received food or water for two days.  He responded that he had been told that they were being looked after…………. more lies.  Brian informed me that they were supposed to be provided with three meals and water per day.

During that week our son informed us that JP had resigned and that Mahonri had taken over as Head Coach……what sort of organization changes a Coach so close to the Rugby World Cup????

Again, we were not notified of this change by management.

On Sunday 14th May we found out that they boys at HPU had not been given food or water again over the weekend and that our son Ethan had a serious boil on his nose that was causing him so much pain in his head. I asked Brian to get medical treatment for Ethan.

I messaged Brian HOPLEY on the 14th May and informed him he replied that he thought all boys were staying with family…………another example of extremely poor management.

He informed me that he had discussed this with the Manager regarding duty of care and the meals….

The Doctor informed our son that he could not play or train for a week as the boil was too close to his brain and it was too dangerous.  Our Sports Agent/Manager from Australia phoned Kolose in Samoa to find out what was going on as we were very concerned with the lack of duty of care and poor management.

Kolose informed our Manager that Mahonri had released Ethan from the team the week before they were due to fly out to the World Cup, so we got Ethan on a flight home and straight to the Doctors…

And no management or coach Mahonri even said good bye to our son ….how disgusting is that.

We are still waiting for reimbursements of Ethan’s airfare over and return from Australia.

 

Our points of issues are as follows:

• NO communication from coaching or management apart from JP.

• There was NO DUTY OF CARE towards our son.

• Lack of the basics FOOD AND WATER not provided, is just disgusting and beyond belief.

• NO STRUCTURE OR 

COMMUNICATION FROM ANY 

MANU SAMOA MANAGEMENT 

OR COACHING STAFF.

• Our son was not looked after properly and the HPU is substandard and not fit for human habitation.

• If we had known any of this from the outset we would never had let our boy go to Samoa.

• We will never recommend any Samoans in Australia to trial for the Manu Samoa as they are negligent and lack management skills.

• It is probably only suited for local players in Samoa as they don’t know how they should be treated.

• At a professional level, it is abhorrent and it is shameful to the people of Samoa to treat players in this way.  The responsibility lies directly with The General Manager – Brian Hopley, The Coach Mahonri Schwalger and The Manager Ulu…….they are responsible for the negligence and lack of duty of care to our son and the other players.

 

I feel for the players in Georgia as I do not trust the Coaching Staff or Management to have the ability to look after them properly and God help the players if they require medical treatment.

A very unfortunate experience and we are glad that my parents were not alive to have witness any of this.

To the Board of Manu Samoa, I also like to Honor and Acknowledge you all as well.

But this is a very serious issue for Manu Samoa 20s Rugby.  Mahonri Schwalger lack of care and lack of communication and yet he had the decency to attack our honorable Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s about how he ran the Samoa Rugby and yet his duty of care is totally Zero unless you are a local boy? 

Ulu, total lack of management, what manager has no email or any form of communication with the internal and external countries combined to form Manu Samoa 20s Rugby team and Brian Hopley for not following through and taking control of this all happening. 

Can you imagine how Ethan and other players who were treated this way and if they didn’t have strong supporting parents like us, this can make a player commit SUISUIDAL thoughts or commit this, as this is so strong within the Samoa kids, it’s a Disgrace.

As Parents, we would like an apology, money back and Resignation of those 3 mention, Mahonri, Ulu and Brain Hopley. JP was so good with the local and outside players, but there seem to be a cohesion or covert exercise with the team Captain and management to get rid of JP.

You talk about moving forward for Samoa Rugby, you need to re-instate JP and hear his story about what really happen and mentor him for future Rugby as he is a homegrown local boy, who loves Samoa and especially Manu Samoa Rugby.

In conclusion, once again we acknowledge you Honorable Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s and the Samoa Rugby Board. Hoping changes happen for the future of Manu Samoa Rugby.

 

Robert Lolesio.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The letter was received and forwarded to the Samoa Rugby Union for a comment on Thursday. At press time yesterday, no reply had been received.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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