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The XVI Pacific Games boxing tournament will be remembered on Savai'i

The XVI Pacific Games will always be a memorable event for Savai’i, thanks to the Samoa Government deciding to hold the Games boxing tournament on the island.

That is the opinion of Tofa Li'o Foleni, the founder of the Rosalote's Guest House and also the Associate Minister of Health in the Government.

It was the first time for the island to host an international sporting event of such magnitude, with the Samoan boxing team also using the occasion to shine in the ring with spectacular performances. 

Out of the 26 sports tournaments in this year’s edition of the Pacific Games, only one was held in Savai’i and that was boxing. A total of 14 nations and territories participated in the competition including host Samoa. 

Last week, over 60 athletes and officials were hosted by the Rosalote’s Guest House at Sapapali’i Savai’i, which Tofa Li’o said his staff will always remember.

“This is the first time our island has had the opportunity to host such an event, and no doubt most of the athletes who came over were here for the first time, so it’s something that they will always remember,” he said. 

“That goes the same for us. We hosted over 60 of the athletes and officials here and here at Rosalote, we are one big family. Whenever we have people over, we treat them like family. And we were so happy and humbled with the opportunity to host our brothers and sisters from all around the Pacific - stay with us during their time in Savai’i.”

Tofa Li’o said they respected their guests’ privacy and also catered for their needs. 

“Our locals were so happy every time they would come over the shop or walk by and see the athletes just roaming around our village admiring our beautiful environment. I’m sure it is something we (Savai’i) will always remember, having one game here for the Pacific Games.

The performance of boxers in the Samoan boxing team, which saw them bag seven gold medals, also excited Tofa Li’o. 

“To top it off, our boxing team won seven gold medals which was something we never imagined. Like I said, it is going to be hard to forget.”

Tofa Li’o said they also used the opportunity to show their guests Samoan culture.

“We are a proud people,” he said smiling. “As Samoans, we have pride in our culture and our Samoan way of life and so when we had the opportunity to host our athletes last week, we used it well to showcase our culture and expose our way of life.”

Some of the athletes who were guests felt homesick, but Tofa Li’o said they did their best to make them feel at home. 

“Opportunities such as these comes once in a while and we served our guests to the best of our ability so that when they go back home, they will always think back and say that Savai’i is their home away from home.”

He said the big crowd numbers that turned up during the five-day boxing tournament is a testament to how Savai’i residents embraced the occasion that the XVI Pacific Games offered. 

“And did you see the number of people who turned up at the venue to watch the games? That shows how much our people appreciated the opportunity. The games may have been held in Apia, where all the actions occurred. But Savai’i didn’t just sit around.

“The whole island was decorated and had flags to show our support. Now that the games are over, we will always remember the XVI Pacific Games as it was the first time our island has hosted such big international sporting event – and we are grateful for that.”

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