What went wrong in Madrid?

By The Editorial Board 14 June 2024, 10:00AM

Things are not looking bright for Lakapi Samoa after the Manu Samoa sevens team was relegated from the core competition.

Not only does the team find itself in a situation where they need to qualify for the Challenger Series but the not so big pocket of the union has also taken a beating. The relegation has cost Lakapi Samoa ST$3 million.

One of the financial impacts to the union in the next 12 months is missing out on £250,000 (ST870,000) annually from World Rugby as a participation fee to support the team’s preparation costs.

This is in addition to lost revenue from exposure sponsorship. They received a financial blow when telecommunication provider Vodafone withdrew its sponsorship last month.

Lakapi Samoa has never hidden the fact that its finances are just breaking even as there is no source of revenue apart from sponsorship and grants. The grants have to be used for the specific reason it is given and cannot be diverted for other uses.

The loss of the grant for the World Sevens Series means that money has to be sourced elsewhere. This has left Lakapi Samoa in a predicament. Hopefully, the preparation funds for the Olympic Games were sorted well before the team was relegated.

This impacts player allowances meaning players who would be part of the tournaments after the Olympic games may not be paid the same as now. Lakapi Samoa needs a better financial strategy that can earn revenue for the union.

What would bring about such a change? There are many critics of the view that there needs to be an overall change within the administration structure from the top end. There is a feeling that the right people are not at the helm of the sporting body and appointments are either political or nepotistic.

Could an overhaul bring about change? How can this change be brought about if Lakapi Samoa is financially struggling?

The Chief Executive Officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai is expected to leave at the end of the year to concentrate on his business ventures. He has been rolling the union with barely what it has. His successor will have a lot of work to do.

As it is, Lakapi Samoa has no real assets. The current location of the sporting body was given by the government, and so are the fields. There are plans to ask the government for more help in the form of land so rugby can have its stadium.

Lakapi Samoa is also working with a partner who is trying to get overseas sponsorship and find more ways to bring in revenue for the union.

The relegation and loss of grant may impact the Manu Samoa XV and the tests they have to play this year. However, thanks to the dedicated professional players who put their hands up for Samoa, often do not mind the financial situation as it is really about national pride.

It is also worrying to note that there has been inaction from Lakapi Samoa regarding the national sevens coach Muliagatele Brian Lima. For every coach, his performance is based on the results the team produces.

The results have not been good after the first tournament in the last season of the World Sevens Series. As was done with the former Manu Samoa XV head coach, a similar review should have been undertaken and expressions called for a new head coach.

What went wrong in Madrid? Were we that bad that even China beat us? If somebody had said this 10 years ago, people would have laughed. The joke is on the sevens team now. The question to ask now is how do we get back again?

The school competition and local club teams have players that need to be developed. There is a need for a better strategy on the field and better quality of players. There are so many players in Savaii and rural Upolu who are built for the game of sevens.

Many have questioned how players for the team were selected. Maybe that is something the head coach and selectors can answer. There is also a need for the sevens head coach to make a public statement and face the media about the situation the team is in.

This is our national team. We will support them and cheer them on. We will also question them when things have not played out the way they are supposed to.

All the best for the Olympic Games.

By The Editorial Board 14 June 2024, 10:00AM
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