Here’s a nice thought for a Friday. Not all public scraps have to result in a nasty ending. It’s possible that some scraps are necessary for the greater good – and they could actually have a very positive result – depending on the attitude of the people involved.
Take for instance the little verbal sparring between the President of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation (S.W.F), Tuaopepe Asiata Wallwork and the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio.
On the front page of the Sunday Samoan this week, Tuaopepe was clearly unimpressed about the decision by the Minister to introduce weightlifting programmes to schools without consulting him and his officials.
In expressing his frustrations, Tuaopepe said the Ministry’s decision was a slap in the face especially when the S.W.F has worked so hard over the years to develop the sport.
He said the least the government could have done was consult them first. So he set the record straight.
“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,” he said.
“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 reiterated that the Minister and the Ministry should have had the courtesy to contact them first.
“They should’ve called us or asked 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.”
Tuaopepe has a valid point. Communication is such an important tool and perhaps all they needed to do was pick up the phone for a little chat.
At the time when Tuaopepe raised his concerns, Minister Loau was in New Zealand for a Parliamentary programme. But the President of Weightlifting’s concerns were not lost on the Minister when he returned.
On Tuesday, Minister Loau issued a response.
“Initially I am baffled with the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, (S.W.F.) President Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork’s reaction,” he wrote.
“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 M.E.S.C is implementing with my endorsement as Minister of Education, Sports and Culture is the revival of sports codes such as 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 amongst our young school athletes who may pursue weightlifting as a career if they are exposed to the code at the grass roots level.
“That’s why as Minister, I am all for grass roots sports development without any ulterior motives attached.”
Interestingly enough, when Tuaopepe raised the issue, he also revealed that the Federation is planning to conduct school programmes next year.
“The focus of this is to filter the kids to come through the system to start representing Samoa,” Tuaopepe said. “It will be called an Interschool Competition and towards the end there will be a National School Boy Championship.”
This is great news, isn’t it?
The problem is that the Minister and Ministry were not aware of it. But now that they are, Minister Loau immediately commended it. And he did more than pat S.W.F on the back.
“Should the S.W.F. need the M.E.S.C. help with their planned school development programme, my door is always open,” Loau wrote.
“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 roots 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.”
Well there is a great leader. Isn’t it wonderful that a Minister would offer the olive branch and ask a Federation to work together for the betterment of Samoa? What a great example. This is what we want to see. And all the other power-hungry officials should learn from Minister Loau in how to resolve a conflict.
Now go on gentlemen, call each other – or email – make time for a coffee and let’s iron out the details about how we can unearth more weightlifting stars in Samoa.
We can hardly wait.
Have a blessed Friday Samoa, God bless!