Samoan rep elected to International Va'a Federation Board

The Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association (S.O.C.A.) is celebrating a significant appointment for one of their officials this week.

Andy Wheatley has been elected to the Board of the International Va’a Federation.

For Mr. Wheatley, he sees the role as validation and recognition of the work being done for the sport in Samoa.

The election took place during the Federation’s A.G.M. in Marina del Rey, California, U.S.A. last week, and Wheatley now joins the seven other members on the Board. 

“That was quite humbling, to be asked if I was willing to go for it,” he said.

“I think all the work we’ve put in, and how we’ve been very progressive in what we’re doing [got me elected], we’re always trying to stay in front of the game.”

Mr. Wheatley said it was a tight ballot, and other nominees for the position had 20 years of experience with the International Va’a Federation (I.V.F.).

“I think having fresh ideas and a younger mind, and the passion that we showed, that’s what got us across the line.

“Just having that voice for the Pacific I think is really important, not just Samoa but for the whole of the Pacific, it sort of gets left behind sometimes when the bigger countries get in.”

He wants to build the I.V.F.’s presence and make it more known, so that it has the strength to take the sport further.

“There’s some good change that can be done to really grow the sport and enhance the sport.

“Especially in development, school programmes, juniors, I don’t think there’s enough focus on that.”

The I.V.F. office is in Delaware, U.S.A., so Wheatley said the Board meet in Los Angeles as a halfway mark, and the role will also involve a lot of travel to world events.

“I had to think about it, because it’s a lot of work as well.”

He said Samoa being chosen to host the 2021 World Long Distance Championship of Outrigger Canoeing at the A.G.M. justified the work Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association has been doing.

“[In the five years] I’ve been on this island it’s been talked about, bringing these events back.

“We’ve always worked on it, and always hit roadblock after roadblock when we’ve tried to do it.

“This is a breakthrough, finally things just lined up.”

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