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Dear Patrick

I am writing to you to express my utmost gratitude for all that SASNOC, the Samoan Sporting Federation, Chef de Mission Milford, Kerrie Punivalu and Suzie Schuster have done for me throughout my journey as part of not only the Samoan Swimming Team, but as part of Team Samoa.

I joined the team as a thirteen-year-old, attending the 2012 Oceania Swimming  Championships in Noumea, New Caledonia, as my first international competition. Ever since then, I have been blessed to have travelled all over the world, having also competed at the 2013 World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, the 2014 Oceania Swimming Championships in Auckland, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Doha, the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan, the 2016 Oceania Swimming Championships, and most recently, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

With a list this long, it is fair to say that I have had some of my greatest life experiences in the past few years. In attending all of these events, most recently the Olympics, I have always felt safe and supported by Chef de Mission Milford, Kerrie Punivalu, Suzie Schuster, SASNOC and Team Samoa.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent and compete for Samoa. In representing Samoa, I have gained so much more perspective of life, a greater passion and appreciation for sport, and also learnt more about not only myself, but the type of person I want to be. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the amazingly grounded, respectful, and humble family that is Samoa.

I would also like to thank the people of Samoa. While in Rio, athletes were gifted money that was raised by the people of Samoa, who volunteered their own time, and effort. I am humbled and honoured to have received money as a result of the generosity of the business who donated prizes as well as donations from the Samoan public.

Finally, I apologise for the delay in sending you this letter of thanks. I have been meaning to write to you ever since I returned home, however, once I arrived back in Brisbane, I became distracted with catching up with studies, assignments and exams. I now have a lull in study to prepare for final assignments and exams next week which has allowed me to complete this letter of appreciation which was started some time ago.

Mere words cannot express how grateful and appreciative I am for the opportunities that have been afforded me as an athlete. I also cannot adequately explain how thankful I am for the heart-warming love and support shown me by SASNOC, Samoa Swimming Federation and the people of Samoa.

Thank you all for helping me develop as an athlete and also grow as a person.

Faafetai, faafetail lava, alofa atu,

Evelina Afoa

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hockey 1475530488 74696 

Samoa Hockey Federation has confirmed the arrival of the Mudgee Hockey Club from Australia to spend two weeks in Samoa. The Mudgee Hockey club is here to help the Samoa Hockey Federation with the development of hockey in Samoa, especially at grass root and school levels in rural areas in both Upolu and Savaii.

Mudgee Hockey Club will be arriving in Samoa on the 21st of September where they will head straight to Savaii where students and youths from surrounding areas will be introduced to basic hockey skills. After a week in Savaii the Mudgee hockey club will conduct some hockey development programmes with youths and students in the Aana district in Upolu.

On Saturday Mudgee Hockey Club will have a test against Samoa’s Development Team before they return to Australia on Tuesday.

The Mudgee club has three three Level 3 coaches and will be spearheading the hockey coaching development programme. They also have four level 2 umpires who will be leading the refereeing training programmes. Mudgee Club is also bringing some hockey equipment to be given to schools and youth clubs around the country.

Samoa Hockey is able to implement this hockey development programme with the on-going support from the Mudgee Hockey Club of Australia, Hockey Australia, New Zealand Hockey, Oceania Hockey Federation (OHF), Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) and our local sponsors:

  1. Samoa International Finance Authority (SIFA) (Gold Sponsor)
  2. Samoa National Sports Lotto (Gold Sponsor)
  3. Samoa Commercial Bank (SCB) (Gold Sponsor)
  4. Seb & Rene Sports Company (Gold Sponsor)
  5. Samoa Life Assurance Corporation (SLAC) (Silver Sponsor)
  6. Multipharm (Silver Sponsor)
  7. The BaYs’ Corporation (Silver Sponsor)
  8. Matniuel Screen Printing and Designs (Silver Sponsor)
  9. Samoa Land Transport Authority (LTA) (Bronze Sponsor)
  10. Asco Motors of Samoa (Bronze Sponsor)
  11. Samoa Stationery and Books (SSAB) (Bronze Sponsor)
  12. Bluebird Lumber & Hardware (Bronze Sponsor)

Samoa Hockey is also grateful to all the schools and youth organisations in villages who have accepted our invitation to participate in this hockey development programme.

Samoa  hockey is now ranked 4th in Oceania and was invited for the first time to participate in the Rio 2016 Qualifying tournament which was held in Stratford New Zealand in 2015.

 These on-going visitations from Australia and New Zealand are part of Samoa Hockey’s strategic plan to bring in such skills and expertise to develop hockey in Samoa. Since the introduction of its grass root development programme Samoa hockey has now introduced hockey to over 10,000 youths around the country and the programme will now focus on developing these young players to elite standard.

Samoa Hockey Federation                                                                                                                 “Persevere to achieve”

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It’s been a long road since Samoan swimmer Evelina Afoa’s first appearance on a world stage at the 2013 FINA Swimming World Championships to competing in the Rio Olympics on Sunday 7th August.

17 year old Evelina made her Olympic debut in the Women’s 100m Backstroke event at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium in Rio.

Finishing second in her heat, with a time of 1:08.74, just 0.31 seconds shy of her qualifying time set at last year’s World Championships in Kazan, Evelina took us through her performance:

“I felt really good on my first 50m – I was really fast on my start which was what I wanted.”

Evelina shot through her first length in first place with a time of 32.24 but started to lose speed by the second 50m.

“I’m so dead after that second 50m! It really took it out of me, but I’m glad I raced it and did alright.”

Keen to learn from her experience, Evelina pointed out areas for future improvement:

“I will definitely need to work on my ending, I think that needs a little work still. And trying to be more mentally prepared, because I was so nervous leading up to it!”

The Samoan, who is now attending university in Queensland, Australia, explained the tactic that got her through a tough final length:

“During the race, especially towards the end when I was starting to wear out, I was just thinking of everyone back home and just trying to keep going for them.”

It’s clear that the swimmer’s family and friends are a big motivator for her, and that doing them proud was of the utmost importance.

 “The main goal for me was to try and swim so that I could encourage others back home, and also reassure my family and friends that I take into account everything that they do for me, so I swam my heart out for them.”

As she gains more experience in each event she attends, Evelina is becoming increasingly aware of the significance of her performance in inspiring the next generation of Samoan swimmers. She is not taking her position as role model lightly.

“It’s a huge thing for me – I think swimming is really underestimated back in Samoa so it’s good to be one of the advocates for it. In Samoa, not many people take swimming seriously as a sport. If we all saw it as more of a competitive sport for the country, we as Samoans, and islanders in general could really go somewhere with it.”

For Evelina, her presence at the Olympic Games is a notable landmark in her progression as an athlete, describing the Games as “a huge step up” from the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“It’s amazing. Words can’t describe how excited I am to be here and how much of an honour it is to represent not only my country, but my family and everyone who has brought me here. It’s been incredible - the exposure is unbelievable. You just see superstars walking around – it’s so strange! But I love it, it’s great.”

Marking Evelina’s progress from her first world competition back in 2013, she has developed in more ways than just shaving time off her races. 

“I’ve definitely matured a lot in terms of my attitude towards racing and towards the people I’m racing. It’s just been a huge learning curve ever since then and I look forward to the learning that’s still to come.”

Now that Evelina has completed her event, she is looking forward to spending some downtime at the Games:

“I’m looking forward to exploring the village more and getting to meet and know more people. And of course supporting my fellow Oceania swimmers as well.”

By Alice Toomer - McAlpine of The Reporters' Academy 

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‘Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.’

How many of us can say that we truly live by this maxim?

18 year old Brandon Schuster of Samoa can be confident in the knowledge that he does his best by not only one family but two. The 200m freestyle swimmer has his own family as well as the strict regime of his swimming family. Now, to his delight, he has been welcomed to a third. ‘The Olympic family.’

The enormity of it all is evident as Brandon gasps and tries to put it into a few brief words;

“It’s just amazing. How did I get to the blocks? By stepping on other blocks. Junior competitions, having to fly to Fiji to compete (because we don’t have many swimmers) and then getting international experience in the last couple of years. It’s been amazing.”

Samoa is a Pacific island. Steeped in passion, family and faith. However, not steeped in world class swimming facilities and routines that the swimming greats of the World accept as the norm. The region is developing the sport well, but Brandon’s journey to Rio is a little different as indicated by having to fly to Fiji for just two competitions per year.

Whisper it quietly, but originally he wasn’t ‘that into the Olympics.’ This began to change when he got the competitive ‘bug.’ His first appearance at world level was in late 2012 aged just 14 in Istanbul. The first indication that he’d caught that bug was enjoying ‘seeing his face on the big screen’ at the end of the race.

Brandon’s Pacific roots are important to him. The island nations love to share their heritage and culture. Never more is this evident than when they come together as a group at major Games. Brandon is proud to be an Olympian but also states his experiences at the South Pacific Games as a memory that is second to none. Modestly, he doesn’t mention his achievements at these Games, but he does mention that word again – family.

His roots may set him aside from most Olympians, but the sacrifices made are just the same.

“ Finding time has been the hardest part. To balance school, my social life and the swimming. My only day off is when the pool is closed.” He adds wryly, “that day happens to be a Monday. Not exactly a party day!”

“ Sometimes it’s difficult socially being one of the few swimmers on Samoa, but generally it’s not been too challenging, I’ve had lots of people with me along the way.”

Again, a smile comes across his face. The teenager, knows which question is coming next. It’s almost a traditional routine. It’s about his coach. The reason? His coach happens to also be his mum.

Mum, Suzie Schuster has gone on this same journey.

“Both the family group and the swimming group have been important to me along the way. My mum is in both groups. She and Kerrie Punivalu (Samoa Swimming Federation) have both been beside me and helping along the way. In Samoa, family is culture, family is always there for you and both my mum and dad have always been there for me. There are so many people who have helped.”

It was a positive Olympic experience for Brandon. He clocked 1 minute 57.72 for the four length discipline. He narrowly missed out on his personal best by a tenth of a second. Speaking after his race, he was upbeat about his Olympic experience,

“I got a 58 (1 minute 58 seconds) in the last competition, so it’s pretty good compared to that one.”

Speaking to Brandon afterwards, it was clear to the see that he was excited. He explained that despite having experienced a fair number of major competitions, the nerves and adrenaline that he faced in the ‘call room’ reminded him of a time when he was taking part in competition for the first time.

“I’ve been through tons of call rooms, but that one right there, my heart was like – oh my goodness!”

Despite the overriding emotions when it came to the crunch, Brandon explained that he was able to focus on the task in hand.

“When I see the blocks I just focus on the pool and the race.”

His appearance after the race, was calm and collected, a testament to the Samoan teenager, who, at such a young age is already competing at the top of his game, with plenty of time to go even further, paving the way for other Pacific island youngsters. He’s already got his sights on Tokyo 2020.

Importantly, his demeanor is also testament to his family upbringing…all three of them.

By Simon of The Reporters' Academy 

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With the end of Olympic Day in Savi’I the Samoan Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) can confidently call this event a success. Having more than 300 participants ranging from parents, students and younger children, and 7 sports introduced provided for a fun filled 2 days.

The event which started on Friday 10th of June introduced the sports being played on Saturday 11th of June and taught the skills of each sport. Participants who came to register on Friday were keen to learn the skills and techniques of each sport in order to make the most of their time on Saturday. The sports on offer were:

  • Cricket International
  • Hockey
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Athletics
  • Table Tennis

The official launch of Olympic Day on Saturday was met with a walk to Itu-o-Tane College and Zumba led by students. The success of the event would not have happened without the support of the committee at Itu-o-Tane College and the associations who helped advertise the event; Voice of Christ (VOC) Youth Club, Safotu Youth Club, Itu o Tane Primary School and Fagamalo Youth Club.

Olympic Day is an initiative started up by the International Olympic Committee with the purpose to learn and practice the rules of Olympic Solidarity and be introduced to new sports. The three pillars ‘move, learn and discover’ is the driver for Olympic Day to get people to be active, be introduced to new sports and learn about the role of sports in society and the Olympic Value, such as striving for excellence, demonstrating respect, and celebrating friendship.

SASNOC has seen there is a lot of potential for the growth of sports people in Savi’i with some participants being approached about developing their sports skills. Olympic Day is an annual event and will continue to be held and developed in Savi’i.

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