S.P.G. lights up

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines. 

First Published: 26 August 2007

Even without the intended fireworks, the opening of the XIIth South Pacific Games (SPG) last night was the biggest spectacle ever seen in the history of this country. 

The spectacle was witnessed by arguably the biggest gathering recorded at the Apia Park. 

The show reached heights of entertainment like the moments provided by the fire dancers and some soaring singing. 

It sagged in places and lost the attention of the spectators but regained momentum especially towards the end with the powerful rendition of a traditional song that should have made the hairs on the back of necks stand up. 

It was one of several dramatic moments in the opening ceremony. 

It was an event whose impact was greatest in its being felt and experienced than the description of it. 

Gratefully the speechmakers kept it short. Head of State, His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi declared the Games opened with one sentence. 

President of the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) and Chairman of the SPG Organising Committee, Vaeolenofoafia said.

“For six years we have been waiting for this moment of your arrival.” “Tonight (last night) the people of Samoa warmly welcome you to the Games, Talofa Lava.”

“On behalf of the organising team committee I pledge that we will try our very best to help you settle in and get ready for your competition. 

We want you to feel very much at home here.”

Vaeolenofoafia was frank in admitting that Samoa has the great ambition of using the 13th Games to position Apia as the “sporting city of the Pacific”. 

President of the South Pacific Games Council, Vidyha Larkan said “The Samoa Games Association has with the support of the Prime Minister of Samoa and Cabinet done all that has been humanly possible in the organising and catering of what certainly promises to be excellent Games.”

Larkan called on the leaders of the region to make a difference and make sports and physical education compulsory in our educational institutions. 

This was due to our youth, he said. In his speech, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoli’ai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said it was a pleasure and a privilege for Samoa to host the 13th, and only its second, South Pacific Games. 

While the goal of each athlete is to win a medal in the days ahead, “lest we forget that the spirit of the Games not only serves to reveal the best in ourselves but it also strengthens interpersonal and regional relationships and understanding of our Pacific cultures.” 

Tuilaepa spoke of Sports as “a healthy way of responding to non-communicable diseases that our people are suffering from. ‘And it does promote fitness and happiness’.” 

The final torch bearer, who lit the Games could turned out to be Commonwealth silver medallist and South Pacific Games gold medal winning weightlifter, Ofisa Ofisa.

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