The truth - CHOGM preparation and overseas athletes

By The Editorial Board 01 February 2024, 10:00AM

The truth can be bitter, harsh, and at times even brutal. That is what two cabinet ministers said in Parliament this week and they should be applauded for that. Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Olo Fiti Vaai said the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be given priority over the needs of the districts and their infrastructure work will be addressed after the meeting.

As inconvenient as this sounds, he spoke the truth and showed that the Government thought of it as the right move to put a stop to or slow down work that was happening for the people in Samoa and look at things they could do for people who would be visiting for a week and some may never return.

The CHOGM is a big deal, never has a Pacific Island nation hosted it. This is a good thing for Samoa but the government was expected to plan CHOGM and have separate resources both human and capital for the CHOGM.

Proper planning was needed so other work would not be affected. The people responsible should have planned in a way that the CHOGM works complements work that is ongoing for districts and the people. Both things can be done together and not that one has to take priority over the other.

We have to marvel at the amazing work done by the Samoa Water Authority. Olo said the Samoa Water Authority has dug up boreholes within the town area so that the water supply to hotels is not affected. These boreholes are ready, nine months before the start of the event, they sure work fast.

This must be a different SWA than the one working to supply clean water to homes in Tiapapata that for over 20 years have not had clean water in their taps. Maybe the minister can ask the borehole team to help the guys in Tiapapata.

Olo has also said there were variations to the road work starting from Malua to the Faleolo Airport Road works where the Government is paying to have asphalt cover that area.

This is such a good move that the government is paying extra for the asphalt. This has never happened, then again there is a first time for everything. The government is making sure that the delegates travel on the best roads. That is the priority while people in Fagaloa, drive on roads that haven’t had proper road work done in over a decade. That is the way to go.

Olo stressed that the government was giving priority to the meeting so that when delegations leave Samoa, they are satisfied with the preparations and how beautiful Samoa is.

We hope that the true Samoa is shown rather than the one that is for the eyes of the tourists.

The other truth ushered in parliament was by Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa. She was on point when she said Samoa is faced with the sad reality that major investment is injected into the development of sports but the nation ends up shunning local players for those from overseas.

She said this was not reflective of the resources and investment done into sports.

She said major investment from the Government in sports can be seen at Faleata where multiple sporting facilities are located, and there are also other funds given to various sporting bodies.

She said despite investment in the industry the players flying the national flag are selected from abroad and this does not achieve the purpose of spending on sports.

Why spend money on sports in the country if we are going to end up choosing players from overseas? There can be a quota system so only a certain amount of players are selected. Many a time, we see a Samoa team that many do not even recognise.

Remember, the sporting bodies and the government have spent zero dollars on preparing overseas athletes, there is no investment done into them. This is the trend across all sports, rugby, football, tennis, sailing, athletics, basketball, netball, boxing and other sports.

The bigger question here is what are the local sporting bodies doing to ensure that the locally-based athletes are good enough. This has been going around for many years and is not limited to sports, our Miss Samoa(s) are not local products as well.

Let us hope that the creation of this new ministry will improve that. 

By The Editorial Board 01 February 2024, 10:00AM
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