Counting down to the “miracle Games”
The 2019 XVI Pacific Games, the biggest event scheduled to take place on these shores this year, has already been dubbed "the miracle Games.”
The phrase coined by the Director of the Games Sponsorship team, Tagaloa Fouina Su'a, is quite accurate. Given the time frame Samoa has had to prepare for the event – after Tonga threw in the towel in the last minute – the mere fact we are talking about the Games happening in a couple of months is a miracle indeed.
Ladies and gentlemen, hosting an event of such a magnitude is not something for the faint-hearted. It takes resources, manpower, years of planning and millions of dollars to make it happen.
And while this country is no stranger to such big occasions, if the preparations for those events then was anything to judge by, the fact we’ve had such limited time to prepare for this year’s Games could only mean one thing, Samoa shouldn’t even be hosting this event.
Folks this is not the sort of undertaking you just wake up and commit to. Besides, it’s not an event that involves just athletes and sports administrators.
The Pacific Games, this region’s version of the Commonwealth Games, involves the entire country. We are talking about everyone from Upolu, Manono, Apolima and Savai’i. If anything, the success of previous Pacific Games, and all the other major events that Samoa has hosted successfully in the past, is due to the involvement of all Samoans from all walks of life.
Sure we have our differences and of course we have plenty of problems. But as Samoans, when we are called upon to come together to showcase the best of Samoa to the world, we don’t hesitate. We put our differences aside and we do whatever is necessary to achieve the goal. Such is the pride we have in ourselves and our country. It is reflected in our families, villages, churches and it is what makes us who we are.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi knew about this. And as a man who doesn’t turn down an opportunity, Tonga’s loss has obviously become a gain for Samoa.
This is why we are talking about the Pacific Games and miracles today. Less than a hundred days away from the opening ceremony on 7 July 2019, there is genuine excitement in the air. While the athletes and coaches have put their best foot forward with their training to ensure Samoa is proudly represented, the entire country is slowly but surely starting to breathe anticipation and excitement.
From the organisers, sponsors, athletes, officials all the way down to students, who are well into their preparations to welcome different countries they have been allocated. Take Leifi’ifi College students Temukisa Leuluaialii and Claudia Amosa for example, who are preparing to welcome New Caledonia.
“I think all the preparations for our guests that are soon to arrive are worth our sweat and effort. We’re happy that we’ve been able to showcase our skills to decorate and prepare our school building. As everyone can see, we drew flags and other beautiful arts around our buildings to show our support for New Caledonia.”
Up the road at Magiagi Primary School, Helen Ekeroma, Talaleu Hini and Melania Muaimalae, said they are honoured to be part of the Games preparations as they prepare to welcome the Solomon Islands.
“We cannot wait for them to come so we can show them what we have learnt about their language,” said Melania. “We are looking forward to cheering for them.”
Now they say a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture of these children published on this newspaper on Thursday certainly tells a story. It is that despite the difficulties, challenges and the limitations this country has had to deal with in terms of Games preparations, no mountain is too high when national pride is on the line.
Folks, we would be lying if we said there were no doubts at the beginning when the Government committed the country to the Games. Of course there were doubts, there was a lot of anxiety.
But we are here today and so far so good. The man of the moment is a young man whom the Government entrusted with the job of Samoa 2019 Chief Executive Officer, Falefata Hele Ei Matatia.
"To say that it has been a hectic year of preparations would be an understatement," he said. “Leadership is what has enabled us to get to where we are today. We are blessed with exceptional and strategic leaders within both our Executive and Organising Committees.
"They are supported by teams working tirelessly to put into action solutions to ensure our Games are a success and provide a legacy for our people.”
Speaking of legacy, the last words go to the Games moneyman, the Director of sponsorship, Tagaloa Fouina Su'a. Said he: "I would name this Pacific Games as the 'Miracle Games'. Hospitality is within the DNA of our people.
"It’s our culture to have warm hearts and opening up our doors for people. As part of who we are in our daily life, hosting people comes naturally to us.”
Tagaloa couldn’t have said it better. That wonderful Samoan hospitality is indeed our legacy as a people.
Let me tell you a story. When you enter the fale of a Samoan and ask for tea or some food, you will never be told there is nothing. Even if it means running to the next door neighbor to borrow sugar, teabags and possibly the kettle, a Samoan will always be accommodating – regardless of the circumstances.
That’s what these Games feel like.
Ninety nine days away from today, now is the time to start thinking about those words and amp up our efforts to get behind Prime Minister Tuilaepa, Minister Loau Keneti Sio, CEO Falefata and their Committee to add the final much-needed final touches to make these Games successful. We all have a role to play.
Have an enjoyable weekend Samoa, God bless!