Go on, learn some new skills buddy!

Dear Editor,

Re: Rugby’s U20 saga 

One should always take a negative situation and turn it into a positive experience. In the case of this young Manu hopeful, being stuck in Samoa without food or water, should’ve been taken as an opportunity to add some valuable survival skills to his training. 

So you’re hungry in Paradise and the U20’s World Cup is coming up, what do you do?

Here are some typical survival strategies that we used as kids growing up in Samoa. First lesson, you can never go hungry in Samoa! There’s plenty of food! 

If you’re near the coast and even if you’re no fisherman, you can wait for low tide and walk out and search for shellfish, tunane, or pipis, sea urchins, tuitui, folē a type of brittle shellfish that hides in the sand.

There’s limu, sea weed, seā, sea cucumber, gaū or clam fish and even alu alu or small jelly fish. But maybe leave the jellyfish to the experts as you’d need to ferment it. 

These are relatively easy to obtain if you know what you’re looking for.

Failing that, if you’re nowhere near the sea, just start walking. 

As you walk, your hunger will sharpen your instincts and you’ll start sniffing out fruit that are in season, for example mangoes, esi or pawpaw, vi (I don’t know the translation for vi) but it’s a hard fruit that needs a good whack on a rock to allow you to eat its crunchy and highly nutritious flesh. This will make your eyes sharp for the ball! 

Then there’s sasalapa or saslop if you’re lucky, it’s a miracle fruit full of vitamins and anti cancer properties!

Failing that, you can always rely on the life giving coconut.

Now, climbing a coconut tree is not easy for the novice, get it wrong and you could fall and either die or seriously hurt yourself, so choose the shortest coconut tree with a good bunch of nuts and give your legs a good workout! This is especially good for any forwards who want extra power! You’ll be pumped! 

Aside from the nutritional benefits of young niu or coconut, make sure you eat the aano or flesh, it’s packed with magnesium and potassium!

Ok so you’re still hungry and you’re near a river, great! You can easily hunt for ula vai or fresh water shrimp. Once you’ve caught enough, you can cook them over a little fire. Oh so you don’t have matches? No problem, you can rub sticks together! You’ll need some pulu, coconut husk or aulama, dried coconut leaves and woosh! You’ll have fire! Still not enough food for the champ? Look harder, hustle! 

Look for green bananas to bury in the ashes of your fire (fa’i tunu pa’u) and if you’re lucky and it’s breadfruit season, throw a nice near- ripe ulu in there and bury it in the ashes...

Have these with some fresh pe’epe’e- coconut cream, yum! The best food ever, fit for a king and queen! This will make your muscles hum like the Iaō, the humming bird.

Don’t be afraid to ask families for food if you’re hungry, always ask nicely if you can have a breadfruit or some bananas, otherwise if no one’s looking, just grab it and run! The Ulu Ma’afala is shaped like a rugby ball, just pretend you’re running for the line and side step any flying rocks if the owner sees you! 

This is the best rugby training you will ever get! 

There’s always food to eat in Samoa, good, healthy Samoan food that’ll make your body strong and prepare you well for the World Cup! 

Now, if I was the new Manu coach, I would make sure that part of the training is a week of survival. 



All you will get, is a sapelu, machete and that’s it. You will become masterful in no time! 

You will learn the skills of the bushman, the fisherman and have the drive of hunger to make you hard or tutu’a! 

You will be nimble, fast, fit and hard as a coconut! I will make sure you work as a team to get up early and tae le atota, pick up the rubbish, pray, go to the ma’umaga- plantation and sweat it out digging ta’amu and talo!

You will become better at the mall and the scrum after carrying baskets of produce on your shoulders, all the way down the mountain... 

You will learn fast how to valu talo and popo, how to catch a wild rooster and how to cook like a man! I will make sure of it with my to’oto’o, walking stick! 

I will fill your heads and hearts with stories of our great warriors of the past, so that you will learn their strategies and have no fear of your opponents. 

Do you know the story of Manu Samoa? He was one of Malietoa’s great warriors who used his mental, spiritual and super physical strength to overcome his enemies, but that’s for another time...

In all seriousness, Fiji’s gold medal team trained in the bush for a bit, carrying logs etc. That’s what our boys need, to get away from the pampering and the cell phones, to fast and meditate like monks and train like the warriors of old in the mountains! It will awaken them and make them dynamic!

So uso, brother, know that when you next get stuck in Samoa, your mission is to turn any adversity into a positive experience of learning to survive skilfully and to have an adventure and enjoy the journey!


Auimatagi S.

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