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Dawn Therese Rasmussen gets Lifetime Honorary Award

The 33rd Vailima Marist International Sevens 2021 has recognised the contribution of Dawn Therese Rasmussen with a Lifetime Honorary Award. 

A pioneer in the sport as well as physical education in Samoa, Dawn has also been of notable honoree for the Marist Sport’s Club.

Taupau Alex Mikaele, the Marist Tournament Director, paid tribute to the pioneer sportswoman. 

“You know a lioness in the midst of the crowd, they will always stand out, even her name describes the kind the person of she is," he said as he spoke of the impact she has had.

"The first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise, Dawn will always be in the forefront leading."

In the early days of Dawn's life, she represented Samoa in a number of sporting events such as netball, hockey, tennis and athletics including five South Pacific Games beginning in 1963.

Dawn later went on to become a sports administrator in several sports organisations that she helped establish in Samoa including school athletics, junior tennis, hockey, netball and women’s rugby union.

“We would not be here today if it’s not for the work that people like Dawn have put in. Passion for the sport and for the people, Dawn was gifted and she changed the standard of sports in Samoa,” Taupau added.

“She is fearless and she was born to lead. Dawn was the first physical education in Samoa and she has served as an educator for a number of years. Despite being in her 70’s she is still active and fit – like her saying goes ‘a healthy body is a healthy mind.”

In acknowledgment of her lifetime contribution to sports and physical education in Samoa, Dawn was inducted into Samoa’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. 

She also received a Legendary Sports Award from the Samoa Association of Sports and the National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) in 2017.

For all that Dawn has achieved in life, the advocator in sports says being acknowledged by the Marist Sport’s Club is undeserving. 

“I feel very humbled, very emotional and I don’t deserve it. I thank the Marist for recognizing the work that I have been doing. For me it’s a gift that God has given,” said Dawn.

Dawn’s pathway to greatness all started in 1967 when she returned from her training after completing her scholarship in learning physical education.

“When I was blessed with the opportunity to pursue my studies in physical education, I was surprised that PE covered a lot of areas such as gymnastics. It was performing arts,” she said.

Dawn was the President of the Manu Samoa women’s team in 1998 that played against New Zealand A at the Apia Park.  

The Manu Samoa’s team was formed by two teams - the National University of Samoa and Samoa Polytechnic – and became the first to officially play a women’s rugby match in Samoa, essentially giving birth to women’s rugby in Samoa and its national team: the Manusinalesoa.

“I had a big hand in women’s rugby in the early days, bringing women’s rugby to the forefront. It was during the time when people were not supportive of women’s rugby," she said.

"In 1998 when we played against New Zealand A (What the NZ team was called at the time) – our people were able to witness that women can actually pass and kick the ball. 

"Rightfully so if not for women’s rugby – rugby may not have been included in the Olympics."

Though it was the first time for Samoa’s women to take the rugby field it was certainly not the last. 

Dawn spoke of how she was invited by the Marist Sports Club to bring a team during their Sevens tournaments back in the days.

Taupau then added: “If there is anything I would draw from the life of Dawn that nobody is you, and that is your power. Know that you are destined for great things in life."

The Honorary award will be presented on the final day of the Vailima Marist 7s International Tournament this Saturday at the Apia Park Stadium.

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