C.C.C.S. last minute drama means that come Sunday, this event will truly become the “Miracle Games”

Well this was almost too good to be true, wasn’t it?

Given the fact Samoa was handed the baton quite late in the piece to prepare to host the 2019 Pacific Games, the nation’s preparations – from the Government all the way down to ordinary villagers - had sailed along quite smoothly, that the absence of any major challenges (once that we were aware of at least) was eerily unusual.

But then here we are on the eve of the event, with anticipation and excitement levels reaching fever pitch levels, and along comes a reminder that we live in an imperfect world where you know what happens.

We are talking about the decision by the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) to withdraw church schools from taking part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.

The last minute withdrawal has left the Games organisers with the headache of having to find some 500 dancers in less than a week to fill the gap.

But the decision goes far beyond the opening and closing ceremonies. Indeed, the development is not just unfortunate for the organisers of the Games and the hundreds of students – who have been denied the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of something spectacular – it has once again exposed the tensions that have been bubbling beneath the surface in this country. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Not that the General Secretary of the C.C.C.S., Reverend Vavatau Taufao, would admit to it.

“The opening ceremony is scheduled on a Sunday and the church’s unwritten rule is that we cannot dance or even go fishing on a Sunday, it’s a holy day,” he said.

“We had only found out about it last Friday that the opening is on a Sunday and the church was not formally informed about the programme, in fact we found out about it through the media. The decision was then made that we cannot let the schools participate in it because it’s on a Sunday.”

Really? Let’s be honest here, this country has known about the day and the date of the opening ceremony since last year. Where have the leadership of the C.C.C.S. been hiding?

It’s such a lame excuse, isn’t it? But to each their own. Of course opinions will be divided on the issue of the opening ceremony being held on a Sunday. Here’s the thing, why didn’t the Church, especially the C.C.C.S., object during previous opening ceremonies of events this country had hosted successfully on Sundays? Did not those ceremonies involve C.C.C.S. church members too? Why now?

We believe the reason is quite obvious. And so does the Chairman of the Pacific Games Organising Committee, Loau Solamalemalo Sio, who insisted that the schools knew very well about the details from the start when they agreed to take part.

“I think we’re picking up the real reason why they did what they have done,” Loau said, and declining to elaborate further. And good on him.

Now is not the time to wallow on petty politics dressed up in hollow religious reasons that just don’t stack up. Which is why we like the attitude from the Chairman in dealing with this most unfortunate issue.

Instead of getting upset and becoming bogged down in needless energy wasting debates, Loau understands that the show must go on. Regardless.

On that note, they have already moved on to Plan B: inviting other youths and students to step to the plate. As this piece was being compiled last night, schools like St. Mary’s College, Samoa College and many others were heading to camp for the next few days to try and learn the dance moves students of the C.C.C.S. church have been rehearsing for the past four months.

It’s not an easy task. It’s a nightmare on all fronts.

But it is doable and it will be done. This is one of the best things about being a Samoan. We are not afraid of challenges; there is no such thing as a “can’t do it” in our vocab.

With a positive mindset, we know those new dancers will be ready by Sunday.

If we were not serious before about this being the “miracle games", whoever coined the phrase could not have picked a better one. The organisers need a miracle for the opening ceremony on Sunday.

But keep the faith people. Challenges, obstacles and tests are only meant to make us stronger. Whatever happens, the show must go on. Four more days to go.

Have an awesome Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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