China camps for PG athletes won't hinder education
The 97 students that are part of the 289 strong contingent of athletes and coaches heading to China for training camps ahead of the Pacific Games will not be missing out education-wise.
Under the China Sports Initiative, Team Samoa representatives from 10 sports will be training in southern China for up to four months prior to the Games in July.
Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) vice president Kerrie Punivalu said all the athletes that have left and are leaving have gone with the full endorsement of their educational institutes.
“The schools, all the principals have worked with the federations to make sure that they have taken all the necessary documentation and schoolwork with them to maintain those levels.
“A lot of them have endorsed them to go purely because it’s an experience that will benefit them in their schooling.
“China is providing classrooms, WiFi and opportunities there to do their schoolwork on a daily basis."
SASNOC sports development officer Sula Tagifano So’onalole-Sam Chong said the educational needs of the athletes are not being neglected.
“All the students that have gone, they have their team leaders and their managers monitoring their homework and all the assessments that need to be done before they return home."
Punivalu, who is also the president of the Samoa Swimming Federation, said there is little time during the day to rest for the two female and nine male swimmers that have gone to China.
“Training, eating, schoolwork, training, sleeping, and that’s how it should be for elite athletes.
“This is a standard practice all over the world for high performance sports."
She said this was a unique opportunity for Samoan athletes to be exposed to higher levels of training that cannot be consistently delivered here.
“Never had the opportunity to do that here, due to many reasons; not enough coaches, not enough hours, the facility may not be open," she said about the swimmers, who are training three times a day.
Among that group are two boys from Saoluafata who have never left Samoa.
“The growth in them in the last two weeks that they have been there has been phenomenal.
“They have never been exposed to such good facilities, good training, excellent coaching, good nutrition, and just that solid training of sports throughout the whole day."
SASNOC chief executive officer Tuala Matthew Vaea said the China Sports Initiative is a wonderful opportunity, and one that they feel a responsibility to grasp fully.
“It’s unique, it has never happened before on this grand scale in the Pacific."
He said Vanuatu had about 70 athletes go over a few years ago.
Team Samoa chef de mission Nynette Sass said having seen the results other countries have achieved through Chinese assistance, she hopes the Samoan athletes will be peaking when they get back.
Tuala said as well as education providers, it was also important to receive private sector support for those that will be in China for a significant period of time.
“We’ve had to write to them on behalf of the athlete or the management.
“Fortunately we’ve had great support in getting special leave, and people to be granted the opportunity to travel, and come back and resume their work."
China Sports Initiative
Athletics: 18 female, 63 male athletes; two female, six male coaches; four months
Archery: three female, three male athletes; one male coach; four months
Badminton: one female, 11 male athletes; two female, one male coach; three months
Basketball: ten female, 25 male athletes; four male coaches; four months
Boxing: 24 male athletes; one female, six male coaches; two/four months (Oceania Qualification dependent)
Football: 21 female, 19 male athletes; two female, three male coaches; four months
Swimming: two female, nine male athletes; three female coaches; four months
Table Tennis: four female, four male athletes; one female, one male coach; four months
Tennis: five female, three male athletes; one female, one male coach; two/four months (school and work dependent)
Weightlifting: six female, 11 male athletes; two female, two male coaches; three weeks (because of upcoming Olympic Qualifier)
Team Leaders: two female, two male mentors