For the love of basketball

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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Passion is the impetus that reveals the inner strength that you have never witnessed before.

This is how Ruthie, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, describes the humble beginnings of the Vaimauga College basketball teams. 

Despite not having a basketball court or a hall to practice in, the sacrifice of the students of Vaimauga College was rewarded with a place in the Basketball Interschool Competition finals earlier this year.

“Basketball as we see it is an indoor game. Very few have basketball courts, such as Pesega College and probably St Joseph, but for us we have no court just two basketballs,” said Tamasoalii Saivaise’e the principal of Vaimauga College.

“I don’t know how our teams made it to the finals without any facilities,” he added. 

Tamasoalii said both the boys and girls teams competed in the interschool competition and they both made it to the finals.

He also mentioned that two of the students from Vaimauga College have been selected in the national team training squad; they are in the basketball development squad for Samoa.

Having Ruthie Bolton, a basketball superstar at their school to teach them a few skills yesterday, was an eye opener for the young players of Vaimauga College.

Talking with the Samoa Observer, Tamasoalii expressed his gratitude towards Ruthie and her love for the game and love for the young ones.

“It is amazing to have Ruthie here, a very rare opportunity especially to meet somebody of this potential, this calibre and fame. It is a blessing and a privilege for this school to have her here; to coach and run this one-day clinic for our students. We really appreciate it,” he said.

Tamasoalii also said all sports have a beginning and they had to start from somewhere. 

He believes basketball is like rugby, the more exposure they give the students, the better they will become and once the students get used to it, they will love the game.

According to Bright Duah, a student of the college and a member of the basketball squad, it was really good to have Ruthie in their school because it inspired him to polish up on his God-given talent.

Vaimauga College basketball squad with basketball star Ruthie Bolton.
Vaimauga College basketball squad with basketball star Ruthie Bolton.
Some of the squad in action
Some of the squad in action

The 16-year-old added that it was an honour to have Ruthie teach them more basketball skills that they were not aware of. 

Bright loves basketball and he hopes to pursue a career in the sport so that he can become an excellent player like Ruthie. 

Bright said he would work hard in school and in basketball to achieve this goal.

For Ruthie, the less the college of Vaimauga has, the more they will gain. 

“It has been really humbling. Sometimes in life, less is more. Maybe they wouldn’t have a basket with a net or a court but really to me they have worked hard.

They were humble and worked with what they had. Most of them don’t have the right shoes but I love the heart. Sometimes in life you don’t worry about what you don’t have but focus on what you have.  And doing the best you can,” she said.

The principal is thankful for this great chance for them to finally learn from an expert in basketball herself. 

He is certain that Ruthie is not just an expert but a woman with a heart for the game and the students. 

Tamasoalii added as the saying goes practice makes perfect, the more opportunities like this that they have, the more skilful the students will become. 

The C.E.O. of the Samoa Institute of Sports (S.I.S), Falefata Hele-Ei Matatia, is grateful for the one week that they have spent with Ruthie to go out to different schools to promote basketball and give them a message of hope.

He believes that Ruthie is all about heart, a heart for Christ, a heart for people and a heart for the game, which is why she is successful because she does things from the heart and it is meaningful. Hele-Ei added on by saying that Ruthie loves other people more than she loves herself. 

Mighty Ruthie once again left the message of empowerment for the young players of Vaimauga College.

She told them to be the best that they can be, on the field and in the classroom and to keep this moment in mind because they will never get it back.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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