From Tuana'imato to Zurich : How Sarai Bareman stays in touch with her roots from the top of world football
In the corridors of power at FIFA, among the most influential figures in the sporting world, you will find a Samoan woman wearing a sei.
FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman, who was born in New Zealand to a Samoan mother from Lotofaga and Apia and a Dutch father, said she always wears a sei to never forget where she came from.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it’s important to remember your roots to stay humble; to stay grounded.
“I’m really proud of where I come from, it’s something that I carry with me everywhere I go."
Bareman said remembering that is key so that she doesn't forget why she is where she is either.
“It’s for the countries like Samoa, for those players and for the girls and boys that are entering into football at that level… to support them and to provide opportunities for them," she said.
A former Samoan international football player, Bareman moved to Samoa in 2008 before taking on a role at the Football Federation of Samoa (F.F.S.) the following year.
She said the six years she spent in Samoa are invaluable to her even today.
“Samoa for me is where I started my football journey.
“I had a real opportunity to roll my sleeves up and get really involved, in a really hands on way that you maybe wouldn’t have the opportunity to in a bigger country."
Bareman said the time spent at F.F.S. has been crucial to her understanding of the football ecosystem.
When she arrived, the Federation was rebuilding from scratch, having been cut off by FIFA for misusing funds, and Bareman recalls seeing what it takes to get the sport up from zero.
“I certainly still draw on those experiences now, particularly when I’m visiting and working with FIFA member associations from the more developing regions."
Bareman was last in Samoa at the beginning of the year, while her husband was getting his pe'a done over a 3-4 week period.
She said she in awe of seeing him go through that.
“That was an amazing experience, culturally but also to be with the family, to be back in Samoa, to be really immersed in it."
Bareman is hoping to return towards the end of the year, and told new F.F.S. President Papali'i Leslie Petaia she is open to help the game here however she can.