Sons follow father's refereeing footsteps
Tapeni Malua Saio is a proud father whose sons decided to follow in his footsteps as a rugby referee by joining the match official association for the Faleata Union.
His sons are Natuitasina Montgomery Saio and Lorenzo Ross Mataipule.
The 35-year-old is ten years into his career; his sons only in their second of theirs, so he is not expecting much from them.
But he intricately understands the challenges and struggles of being a match official, so he says that it warms his heart that he is there to guide them through those difficult times.
"I am very proud that they want to become match officials, and it is great to see them on the sideline and doing their work well. I know that this career is very challenging especially between us (referees) and players,” he said.
“We get to be called names but I am glad that my boys have decided to take up the risks and I am sure they can do it because I believe in them.”
His children joined the association in 2019, and they started out as linesmen and are still trying their best to learn the rules of the sport so that they can become fully-fledged match officials.
"They are linesmen and they started last year; being a linesman isn't a bad thing. Every referee on the field were all linesmen before. You have to start at the linesman position so that you can learn from the side. It takes a lot of years to work at the sideline before you can touch the whistle and go on the field to officiate a match," he said.
Having his boys in the same field as him makes him very proud.
"I never forced them to become match officials but it is what they wanted. As a father, all I can do is to help and support them so that they can be better and be the best that they can be. I am grateful that they have this opportunity and they grabbed it. They are yet to face the real challenge inside the field but they are slowly getting better at their linesmen role," he said.
His two sons attend L.D.S. Pesega College and Maluafou College, both are in year 10 and are 14 years of age. They are from Vailoa Faleata.
He said that because some players are not disciplined well, scuffles are frequent.
"Many of the scuffles that arise during a game are usually from clubs that do not have a representative in the association. We have decided to have two representatives from each club to join the association because it makes it a lot easier. If anything arises, they can talk to their clubs and inform them of [the bad behaviour] happening," he said.
Saio and his two sons were awarded gold medals and certificates at the Faleata Rugby Union Award Night for their union referees association.