Heartbroken mother speaks up for her Manu Samoa Sevens son
The mother of Manu Samoa Sevens star player, Joe Perez, has called on people to be more responsible with their comments on social media in response to criticisms of the team’s latest performance in the HSBC Sevens Circuit.
Leone Leaupepetele Perez visited the Samoa Observer to express her disappointment about what she described as “vulgar” and “inappropriate” comments made about her son on Facebook. The last straw, she said, was when her son’s facial appearance was compared to a man’s private parts.
“I am a mother and I love my son,” she said. “I’m sure anyone who is a mother can understand how I feel especially when people say really hurtful stuff about their children.”
Leone accepts that her son is a public figure as a member of the Sevens team and sometimes people will criticize his performance but she believes a line should be drawn.
“I am heartbroken about what people are saying on Facebook about my son. I am heartbroken after finding out that my son is a ictim of vulgar criticism by some Facebook users,” she said.
The 76-year-old mother from Vaigaga said her relatives overseas contacted her about the Facebook posts and this prompted her to speak up.
“I am old and do not know how to use social media but I have been told this platform is being used to bully others. Joe is my youngest son and what parent would want to hear that their child is being subjected to disgusting criticisms,” she said.
“I know that the comments were made because we lost a game but at the end of the day, it was a game.”
The mother of 11, whose other son, Paul Perez, had also played for the Manu Samoa and Manu Sevens, reminded that in sports, teams win and lose games.
“I could not sleep on Sunday night after hearing the news about my son; it was heartbreaking to see that our own people would be so cruel.
“We are a country founded on God and yet the actions of these people is unchristian and un-Samoan.”
She said some people on social media said that her son should quit playing rugby and become a farmer.
“My son is a rugby player and that is his talent which I and his whole family support. For those who are complaining that my son should quit, if you do not have sons playing to represent our country, then it is best to support instead of criticizing.
“I think that our people should encourage our rugby players instead of putting them down.”
Leone added that every child is a treasure to their parents.
“My son is no exception. My son has helped our family and church through his talents and in terms of games we are bound to lose some.
“At the end of the day, it is a game. To all those people who continue to say really bad stuff about them, please stop. These players have families and they too have feelings.”
It was not possible to get a comment Joe Perez.
The Manu Samoa Sevens has just completed the Vancouver leg of the HSBC Sevens where they won one game.