Samoa’s Commonwealth Youth Games heroes are home.
The Under 18 team which won gold after beating England arrived yesterday and was a given a fitting welcome by the Samoa Rugby Union at Tuanaimato yesterday afternoon.
The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, greeted and congratulated the team. He was joined by S.R.U Board member and the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i.
“I know it was not an easy tournament for you but you held on and you thought about the tapuaiga by your families, parents and especially the whole country,” Loau told the team.
“It must have been hard especially with some of the toughest teams that you went up against; however you fought and you came out as number one. You have put Samoa on the top of the mountain and you have raised the flag up high.”
The Minister said the young team’s performance has given Samoan rugby a breath of fresh air following the disappointment of the Manu Samoa 15s.
“We learn from it and the sun will shine again and that’s how it is in life but today I can say that this is a new beginning for rugby in Samoa,” said Loau.
“The new beginning starts here with these boys as I have noticed that it starts from the age of16 to 18 years old.
“This should also be a lesson for us to stop getting overseas players. Today we have witnessed the result and this is the answer, we can do it on our own.
“We can do it on our own, starting from these young men.”
Loau reminded the players that this is just the beginning.
“Don’t let this be the end. Aim for the stars, set a goal for yourselves after here then the under 20 and before you know it you are in the Manu Samoa team.”
The Captain and skipper, Sione Young Yen, was humbled by the welcome and he immediately credited teamwork for their success.
“When we went on the field I told my brothers that without unity we will not be able to achieve anything,” said Young Yen.
“The teams we played against were very tough. In the final, England was a very formidable opponent and they really wanted to win too.
“I told my brothers that this is our time and we cannot do it without having one heart.
“We played with that motto in our heads. We were also thinking of our families as well as the country who are cheering and praying for us.
“So today the glory goes back to God first and foremost.”
“I want to acknowledge the work of our coach Laauli Rudy Leavasa for believing in us, our parents and families who were praying for us and most especially Samoa as a whole.”
Young Yen is a Yr. 13 student at Vaiola College. He is the third of four children of Faatau and Fila Young Yen. He hails from the villages of Avao and Lelepa, Savaii. As a thank you gift, the players and officials received envelopes with undisclosed amounts from S.R.U.