Marist Sevens worthwhile investment in local potential and talents

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 15 February 2019

It’s an easy choice. The most exciting event taking place in Samoa this weekend is the Vailima International Marist Sevens, which kicked off at Lotopa yesterday.

An annual fixture on the nation’s sporting calendar, the tournament has become more than just another Sevens rugby competition.

It’s a breeding ground for future rugby stars; a meeting place for athletes from across the globe in the past few years, the tournament has also become a platform to promote women empowerment.

Indeed, it’s just a wonderful atmosphere to encourage talent and nurture them for the future. Which is precisely what people have come to expect.

Marist Sports Club President, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, summed it up quite nicely, when he said: “The whole idea of this tournament is to provide a platform for our young people to showcase their talent at the highest level.”

He added that the tournament – including the support from the sponsors and all the supporters – are an “investment (that) will allow a young Samoan boy or woman to realise a dream. That’s the best we can get out of this platform.”

Needless to say, the Marist Sevens over the years has become part of Samoa. It’s an institution on its own and in terms of investments, it’s probably fair to say that in tala terms, the Marist Sports Club and its supporters have spent millions and they are continuing to do so.

As for the return on investment, well we hardly need to tell you. The number of local stars this tournament has unearthed, and launched onto the international stage over the years, speaks for itself. Not just for Samoa but for other rugby nations. The tournament has had a massive positive impact on this country.

The only thing that we can only wish for – and perhaps a dream for Marist as well – is that one of these days, this Marist Sevens tournament get on to the World Rugby calendar and become part of the World Rugby Sevens Series. Samoa will host the best names in rugby sevens in Samoa. Still, dreams are free and you never know.

In the meantime, at the official opening of the Marist Sports Week last year, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, made a couple of excellent points about the tournament worth remembering. 

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In congratulating the Executive Committee of Marist, Fiame said: “Many of our country benefited through the Marist system, through education and like today, through sports development through the Marist schools.

 “I must acknowledge Marist’s insistence to foster relationships and partnerships with Samoa Rugby Union, Samoa Touch Association, Rugby League Samoa, Netball Samoa and the newly established, Samoa Institute of Sports.” 

 “This is the indication that Samoa’s development is nationwide rather then within the realms of its own boundaries.  I believe this is what they call the Marist spirit.

 “And for that, the Government acknowledges and supports such initiative, which in the long run will have greater benefits to our sports results at the national level.”  

Lastly, she said: “My challenge for Marist and its executive board is to keep raising the bar for sports development in our country. I do not need to mention how many great rugby players have come through the Vailima International Sevens to represent Samoa at the highest level. Our people have the raw and natural talents, all they need is a pathway to develop to inspire and aspire to achieve their full potential.”

We could not agree more. 

Today, we want to re-iterate that tournaments like the Marist Sevens, are steps in the right direction and ones that should be encouraged. The only way our athletes will get better is if they continue to be exposed to quality tournaments, like the Marist Sevens.

Now our only other wish is that Samoa’s best Sevens players, we’re talking about the National team, were allowed to take part. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if some of Coach Sir Tietjens first choice players were allowed to play today? 

If other teams are bringing in some of the best Fijian players, why can’t Samoa feature some of our very own best players in the biggest Sevens tournament of the year?   

In any case, we congratulate President Faimalomatumua, the Executive of Marist Sports Club, all the sponsors who have made the tournament possible, and last but not the least the winners.

As we said last year, we do hope the top prize and the Marist trophy stays in Samoa this time. Auckland Marist has won the tournament three times now. Nothing wrong with that but it would be nice for a local team to break that record. Folks, get yourself a ticket and we’ll see you at Lotopa today.

Have a fabulous weekend Samoa, God bless!

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 15 February 2019

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