Samoa sends Pacific Games athletes to China training camps
The Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee officially announced their China Sports Initiative yesterday, which will see 290 athletes and coaches train in China as part of Samoa's preparations for the Pacific Games.
The initiative comes under China's aid agreement with Samoa for the Pacific Games, and many of those athletes have already arrived in China.
Team Samoa chef de mission Nynette Sass said it's a great opportunity for her team.
"We can’t understate the importance of that given that we don’t have the venues to train on."
SASNOC chief executive officer Tuala Matthew Vaea said the Initiative is key with many of Samoa's sports venues and facilities closed until June with renovations being done.
“That is one of the benefits of this initiative, to be able to mobilise 10 sports to the southern region of China to be able to have access to high performance facilities."
He said they invited the sporting federations of all 26 Pacific Games disciplines to the first consultations around the Initiative last year.
Then China looked at what sporting facilities they had and could offer to particular federations.
“Hopefully in the long term, as we are looking over and beyond the Pacific Games, we can open up the opportunity in China for all our sports in Samoa," Tuala said.
China's director of Samoa sports, Liu Yanfeng said the Initiative reflected the bond between his country and Samoa.
“Through sports, education, we can strengthen the relationship between the states."
Sass said feedback from the contingent so far has been all positive, with lots of praise for the hospitality of the people of China.
“They’re very excited about their new homes, which are 3,4,5 star hotels they are living in.
"The only thing that they complained a little bit about was just it was too cold," Sass joked.
SASNOC sports development officer Sula Tagifano So’onalole-Sam Chong has received the same sort of feedback.
“The majority of athletes that have gone have never left this country, so for them this is a whole new world, and they’re getting to experience not just the culture, but learning the language," she said.