Minister kicks out at sport

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio has raised concerns about internal problems in sporting bodies in the country. 

He believes that the poor performance and the lack of elite athletes coming out of the sports is because of disputes within administrations.

“These are are affecting athletes,” he said. 

Loau made the comments when he was asked about athletes in Team Samoa who went to the Rio Olympics. 

He said it was no secret that the performance from the athletes is a reflection of the way the administration of the sports are run. 

“There are so many disputes within these sporting bodies; for example athletics and volleyball,” said Loau. 

“The disputes are affecting our players and potential Olympians. It reflects on their results yet it’s taxpayers’ money that is assisting them to fund their events and other needs.”

The Minister also blamed the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) for not stepping in. 

He questioned what they were doing. 

Furthermore, he added that Cabinet is looking at making a request to the national body to disclose accounts from the organisation to the government for transparency. 

Contacted for a comment via email, S.A.S.N.O.C. president, Fepuleai Patrick Fepuleai said all the sporting bodies (National Federations – N.F.) are members of S.A.S.N.O.C. 

Fepuleai explained; “All these N.F.s have their own constitutions and elected Boards who run their particular sports. Disputes within these N.F.s are not new. 

“We at S.A.S.N.O.C. do not have any powers to intervene with the affairs of any N.F. If, for example, there is a dispute at the Samoa Rugby Union, we have no power to interfere. They have their own Board and Constitution to deal with that. It is the same for other N.F.s like Athletics and Volleyball that you have referred to.”

The president pointed out it doesn’t mean the organisation operates in a vacuum from the N.F.s members where he says he was also reported for interfering in their affairs. 

He said S.A.S.N.O.C. has assisted in trying to resolve disputes in N.Fs. 

“It is a misconception that we as S.A.S.N.O.C. can just go in and resolve these disputes within the different N.Fs,” he said. 

“S.A.S.N.O.C. is the sole authority when it comes to selecting teams for the Pacific Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. We are also the channeling authority when dealing with the I.O.C. (International Olympic Committee) for sports funding. 

“We have assisted N.F.s in trying to resolve disputes. Some have been successful and some not. I have been reported to one International Federation (I.F.) for interfering in the affairs of the N.F.s.” 

 As for the accounts of the organisation, Fepuleai assured the public that they are audited every year and disclosed to their members at every Annual General Meeting. 

“Copies are given to the I.O.C. through its agency Olympic Solidarity. Copies should also be filed with M.C.I.L. as part of the statutory requirements.  We have no problem with government having access to our accounts. Government is an important partner to S.A.S.N.O.C. in the development of sport in Samoa.

“For the various campaigns, it would not be possible without Government’s financial support. 

“We do prepare particular accounts and reports within 30 days after the completion of a particular Games. Public funds have been used and we have to account for them. Our report for the recent Olympic Games is nearly complete and will be forwarded to Government shortly. This is no different from funding we get from the I.O.C. We have to file acquittal reports otherwise they stop the funding.” 

Looking ahead to the next Olympics in Japan, Fepuleai spoke about a time in Rio Olympics where he discussed the next Games with the Minister Loau. 

“We share the same vision of what we need to do,” he said. 

“It has to be a collaborative effort from all the stakeholders. The government, S.A.S.N.O.C. and the N.F.s, need to work together to achieve this. I have met with the Minister since we have been back to put into action, plans with the ultimate aim of medalling in Tokyo. The focus is on the development of our core sports that we are strong in. Rugby is in good stead with what they have and the development they have in place. We need to give more support for our weightlifting programme to lift them to another level.”

On the boxing side, Fepuleai said he has seen a recent revival with its development and the Minister’s initiative in launching schoolboy boxing. 

“We have pathways for these athletes in the Youth Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games, Pacific Games and the Commonwealth Games. 

“I am excited to work together with the new Minister to achieve the excellence in sports that our people expect.”

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