Fautasi o Toa hold online meeting before regatta

Members of the all-girls “Fautasi o Toa" long-boat team held an online meeting on Saturday to discuss the team’s longboat race next month against four St. Joseph’s College teams.

Skipper Vaimasenuu Zita Marte and the rest of the crew discussed what it feels like to be part of an historic all-girls Fautasi team over Gems of the South Pacific, an online platform for hosting meetings. 

The regatta next month is one of many events being organised to commemorate the school's 70th Anniversary. 

The event was officially launched by Prime Minister and former student, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi earlier this month.

News that the all-girls Fautsi team was to compete in the race was announced in early October when Vaimasenuu accepted the challenge from the Marist Brothers Old Pupils Association (M.B.O.P.A) at the launch of the 70th anniversary of St. Joseph's College.

Founder of Gems of the South Pacific, Luana Nauer hosted the talk with skipper Vaimasenuu and other team members Verona Parker, Muriel Lui, Grace So'o, and Lufilufi Rassmussen on the weekend.

Vaimasenuu said that she had chosen to name the team “Fautasi o Toa" because of its many deeper meanings. 

"Fautasi o Toa is a longboat of legends; longboat of champions; longboat of the brave ones; longboat of the courageous ones," she said.

Vaimasenuu thought it was a good name because they are trying to bring the youth into the sport of fautasi racing; to aspire to something and to be greater than themselves. 

“Fautasi o Toa" will include women representatives from Don Bosco, St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s College. They will be up against teams from Marcellin [blue], Alfred [green], Dieter [red], and Darnand [yellow]. 

All four competing teams will be made up of old pupils from St. Joseph’s College.

Vaimasenuu told the Gems of the South Pacific that she had tried to approach the idea of a women's team several times with the Guild of Skippers but they were not that receptive to the idea.

She was happy with the fact that 16 girls had enrolled at Don Bosco Technical Centre and they had started training with 6 of the girls from Don Bosco Technical Centre for a mixed team for the Teuila Festival.

“We started training with the Don Bosco girls for the Teuila Festival this year but it got cancelled and so out of the 16 students who are currently enrolled at Don Bosco, the girls, only 6 could make it onto the team which was going to be a mixed team,” Vaimasenuu said.

 “And for me, that was a start, that was a positive start towards the steps in getting an all women's team because eventually if Don Bosco had more girls next year we will eventually get a full women's team,” she said.

Her hopes of an all women's team for the fautasi race came true when she was contacted by the President of the Marist Brothers Old Pupils Association, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, that they would love to have an all-girls team skippered by to compete in the Fautasi race during the 70th Anniversary of St, Joseph's College.

Vaimasenuu said she thought it was an awesome challenge because according to her it's not just about her as a skipper, it's about this next level of bringing in women into the sport by an established organisation such as Marist which is quite well known in the Pacific.

She is grateful for the challenge from an established full men's association that is well known in Samoa, and, according to her, this means that they recognise not just her role as a skipper but the role that women play in this country; something which Vaimasenuu said is a huge stepping stone.

Vaimasenuu told the Gems of the South Pacific that once the word got out about an all-women's fautasi team, she had received a lot of messages of support. 

Founder of Gems of the South Pacific Luana Nauer told the Samoa Observer on Sunday that an all-women's fautasi team is a great idea which breaks boundaries and says that "women can do it as well."

She stated that these women are leaders which is why she reached out to them to talk about the Fautasi o Toa and to share their wisdom.

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