Making a case for financial rewards for gold medalists

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 13 April 2018, 12:00AM

The Government must provide monetary rewards for our Commonwealth Games gold medalists. While it would have been nice if all medalists get some form of monetary compensation, we believe gold medalists should at least be recognised and rewarded for their hard work. 

It’s the least the Government could do.

If money is a problem, there are other ways. For instance, the Government could gift a piece of freehold land somewhere to allow these athletes to enjoy and appreciate the value of their labour. 

We know, from what we have been told, that our gold medal winners come from families who struggle to get by. One of them had even left her family as a result of abuse. So imagine what a piece of freehold land they can call their own could do for them? 

If not, the Government could take a vehicle from the many cars that are being mercilessly abused by the public service and give it as a token of appreciation for the hard work. 

Folks, something surely has got to be better than nothing. It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? You see even in writing this, if feels so wrong trying to make a case for something that should have already been legislated when it comes to excellence in global competitions such as the Commonwealth Games. 

We shouldn’t have to remind the Government about the need to do the right thing. If the Government already has plans to reward our finest athletes, then hallelujah. That would be just fantastic.  

Unfortunately from what we’ve been told, it appears that the ruling administration needs to consider the matter. Which is disappointing and it doesn’t sound very promising at all.

We don’t need to remind you that Samoa’s first Olympic medalist, Ele Opeloge, who won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, received absolutely nothing from the public coffers.

Apart from the generosity of the general public who gave during an appeal spearheaded by your newspaper, the poor woman who had spent her lifetime making Samoa proud was given nothing as a reward for her efforts. 

We still believe the decision by Prime Minister Tuilaepa and his administration to ignore her achievement is one of the worst forms of injustice we have seen in this country in the recent past.

But here we are again. 

Now that with Sanele Mao and Fegaiga Stowers bringing home gold medals from the Commonwealth Games, there is a chance for this Government to right their wrong. They have an opportunity to redeem themselves. 

The past is the past and while we can use what happened as a lesson, we need to think about moving forward and making sure we don’t make the same mistakes.

Needless to say, if we want athletes to continue to push themselves and gain the best results for Samoa, we need to make them feel special about achievements like gold medals at competitions like the Commonwealth Games. 

Offer them top incentives to give them extra motivation. Young budding athletes will also be inspired. What’s the harm in legislating $50,000 as a prize money for a gold medal from the Commonwealth Games as an incentive? And maybe $100,000 for the Olympics? 

That way, there is something there to aim for.

But that’s not all, the sport of weightlifting should also benefit financially from such a performance. They cannot win gold medals for Samoa competition after competition and continuously be treated the same as all the other non-performing sports when it comes to funding. 

If anything, they have consistently shown they are a sport worth injecting monies into if Samoa is serious about competing on the international arena. Besides, looking at the performance of some our sporting bodies lately, it is high time the Government makes weightlifting a priority in terms of funding. 

Now during the past few days, a lot of people have been knocking the funding for rugby, saying it is a waste of time. They’ve got a valid point when we consider our international results of late. 

But I disagree for one reason. Results matter and that’s understandable.

Measuring success, however, is another issue altogether. 

When we stop to consider the countless Samoan players from Samoa who are now playing professional rugby elsewhere, bringing in much needed money for their families, churches, villages and the country in general, we cannot be ignorant of the fact that the investment is worthwhile. 

Those players would never have had the exposure if rugby did not get funding.

The point is that when it comes to funding, it is always a difficult consideration because there are many factors to take into account. 

That said, gold medals should surely count for something. Athletes and sporting bodies should be rewarded adequately for their achievements. After all these years, weightlifting is surely due for a massive payday. 

What do you think? 

Have a restful Saturday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 13 April 2018, 12:00AM

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