Giving young people an opportunity to flourish

352 Hits

author picture

Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s an interesting one. The decision by the government, namely the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, to introduce Boxing to secondary schools is not only timely, if it’s administered well, it has the potential to become the tool needed to boost the sport’s ailing fortunes. 

We say timely in the sense that in as far as the development of the sport goes; this is what’s been lacking. While boxing clubs have been trying their best to unearth the boxing talents in the villages, they were limited in reach and access to a number of areas in the country. 

Coupled with issues of poor administration, the lack of finances and proper infrastructure, these obstacles have held back the sport to the point that today; it is slowly dying a natural death. 

Which is why the introduction of the sport in schools, launched last week by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, is a much-needed injection. 

It’s undeniable there is a section of the community who will not agree with the initiative, fearing further spread of violence among students as we’ve seen in the not too distant past. They have a point and their concerns must not be ignored. 

School rivalries fueled by sporting activities have contributed to some of the violence in the past. We hope the organisers of the event have taken this into consideration so they will have a plan to counter it – if it arises at all. 

 But in our opinion, it is better to be proactive than being reactive. There are many positives to be achieved from this initiative. Sure there will be teething problems – like most things in life – but the positives will far outweigh the negatives.

Most importantly, the competition will go a long way towards reviving a sport we know Samoans harbour so much talent and potential to do exceedingly well.

There is absolutely no doubt that in boxing, Samoans are blessed with the genes, the physicality and the natural talent to go far. 

On the global stage, we have punched well above our weight in terms of successes. Consider the fact that from a nation with such a small population, the last two Pacific islanders to challenge for the World Heavyweight title were Samoans. First there was David Tua and then Alex Leapai. Although they were not successful, we know it is no mean feat to secure those places. Just being able to challenge is an achievement on its own we should all be mighty proud of. 

Let’s not forget the rise of Lupesoliai Joseph Parker who is the mandatory challenger for the World Heavyweight title. That fight could happen any day now and we can hardly wait. It could be a case of third time lucky for Samoa. 

These are achievements to be proud of and it is why we believe the decision by the government to endorse boxing – as well as walk the talk by providing the necessary equipment to the schools – is a step in the right direction. 

Interestingly when the competition was first discussed, Lupesoliai Parker was present and he gave the idea a glowing endorsement. That was a great start. It is awesome to have someone like Parker as a role model for the young boxers, someone they can try to emulate and take after. A person like him is what the young people of today need. They need positive role models, they need to be challenged that if Parker could do it, so can they.

The key is to provide them with opportunities. It’s about opening the door and allowing them to find what they do best, which is what this competition does. 

We know that not all students will end up being lawyers, doctors, teachers and writers. Just as they will not all end up playing rugby, netball, basketball and volleyball. For some of them, they are boxers through and through and they are the ones we want to see rise from this initiative. 

But we don’t have to stop with boxing. What about weightlifting, powerlifting, table tennis, golf and other sports? We are a gifted nation when it comes to sports. What are we waiting for? Why not start them young? 

Have an enjoyable Tuesday Samoa, God bless!  

© Samoa Observer 2016

Developed by Samoa Observer in Apia