Samoa has earned yet another first.
This time, a hard working Samoan has been offered a training scholarship to the Sailing World for the first time.
President of Samoa Sailing Association, Raema von Reiche, has won the scholarship for Olympic Solidarity in the United Kingdom.
The programme is designed to help national Olympic committees, particularly those with the greatest needs, through multi-faceted programmes prioritizing athlete development, training of coaches and sports administrators and promoting the Olympic ideals.
Raema is not only thankful for such a great opportunity; she is keen as much as she can from the six week programme so she can share some of that knowledge when she returns.
She is both thrilled and humbled.
“There’s only three spots a year given to all the sports in Samoa and because it’s an Olympic sport, that’s why the Olympic Solidarity is involved because the money comes from Olympic Solidarity to pay for me to go away,” she said.
“I’ve been coaching sailing for over 20 years at the Apia Yacht Club and because sailing is an Olympic Sport; World Sailing which is our mother company that looks after us, they offer scholarships to train people that are coaching because a lot of people that are coaching haven’t really had formal training like for me, I was self taught; my parents gave me a boat when I was eight years old and I just taught myself how to sail.
“I’ve done; small courses but I’ve never had any formal coaching training which makes me an official sailing coach and with this coaching scholarship, they actually teach you not just sailing one boat but they teach you all the different kinds of sailing boats like Kiteboarding, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, multihull which is two hulls as well as yachting and practical skills of Power and Coach Boat handling. So it’s pretty comprehensive.”
The application process was very competitive.
“I had to prove that I’ve been coaching for a long time and I had to prove that I’m going to come back and still pass on all that information to people and that I’m going to carry on coaching,” she said.
“I’m not just going to go away to have fun for six weeks and come back and not do anything because it’s to develop the skills of practicing coaching or individuals already working in the capacity of other National Training programme manager or coordinator needed to develop and manage an effective and sustainable national sail training programme.
“It’s really a huge opportunity for me because the money comes from Olympic Solidarity. It’s not a holiday; the programme that they’ve sent me is really intensive, I don’t have any days off and even on Sundays. It’s like full on for six weeks.”
This course will be held in Weymouth and according to Raema there are seven representatives from other different countries doing this course at the same time and Samoa is one of the few countries in the Oceania that hasn’t done the course.
Raema was her own teacher for sailing and it all started when she was eight years old.
“My parents used to sail here at the Yacht Club Apia Yacht Club and when I was young I used to go with them and just watch them. After I had been watching them for quite a while; my parents gave me a boat but it was a homemade boat made out of plywood; sort of like a windsurfer with a sail so I just pretty much sail it and learned to sail.”
She went away from Samoa for her education but her love for sailing have never stopped and she came back home and found a place to put her skills to great use.
“There were some people involved in the Yacht Club and they got some boats but they didn’t have anyone to coach so I pretty much got involved with coaching and you know, I just read books and learned how to do stuff and then taught kids. That’s pretty much how it started and then I just carried on coaching and I’ve been coaching now for over 20 years.
“I enjoy it; I enjoy teaching kids especially the eight to nine year olds.
“You get a real sense of satisfaction by teaching somebody a sport that they’ve never done especially sailing because it’s quite a complicated sport. It’s not like rugby where we just kick a ball around and also there’s the element of safety involved because kids are out on the water and you have to be very careful.”
Raema has also done some coaching course in Tahiti and she has been using it ever since to coach different children.
“I still think it’s the best way eventhough I’ve done a few other coaching courses like small coaching courses. I still go back to the Tahitian way of coaching kids because I personally think it’s the better way.
“The way that I was taught to coach, you have to really go slowly and methodically and don’t rush it. Get the kids to learn everything about the boat, tip the boat into the water, capsize the boat into the water and let them be familiar with it.
She went on “There are a lot of things involved with sailing that keeps your mind very active and it uses all your senses and your body; so it’s not just sitting on a boat going, you got to be thinking about everything.
“It’s a good skill and you have it forever, that’s why I really believe in this sport and I think that’s why I’m still coaching and I believe it’s a really balanced sports because it’s a sport that teaches you so many aspects of what you need in life; it teaches you how to read the wind, read the sea, read the weather condition and it also teaches you about coordination, independence and because all these little kids actually go out to sail by themselves and they have to make the decisions themselves.”