For Commonwealth Games silver medalist, Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali, where ever this journey may take him, Siumu will always be home.
The successful young boxer took time to speak words of encouragement to the Southern Tornadoes – a newly-formed rugby team comprising players from Falealili and Siumu – at Pesega on Monday.
The Southern Tornadoes are gearing up for their Bluesky Super Nine rugby tournament this weekend against the Savai’i Warriors from Palauli.
Ato told the Samoa Observer that to speak to the team was something special to him.
“It is good to be here. It may be a different sport, but we all have the same goal and that is to win. Everyone is a bit older than me, but it’s a good motivation as well to see young ones coming up."
“It is good to see others strive for success,” said Ato.
“Like I said to everyone, there is no secret behind my success, it is just hard work and dedication. You need to stay humble and give all glory to God for what he has done."
“Your parents take a big toll in our lives. For me, it has mostly been my dad, being my manager. For me, you have to listen to your parents because it is stated in the Bible as well."
“My dad helps me a lot. He definitely has done a lot for me and that is the thing about parents. They would do a lot and so much for you."
“They keep me grounded and more,” he adds.
Ato also announced the opening of a new boxing club in Siumu.
“We just started a boxing club there. We gave them all the gears and things like that. It is one way to giving back to the community and to starting something new,” he said.
Ato’s father, Steven Faoagali, said the new boxing club is a reminder of where everything all started for their family.
“My father was a fighter long time ago and he created a boxing club back in Siumu but I did not know what it was all about until I grew up and started following the sport. I taught myself of how to become a coach and that is where we are at."
“I was born in Samoa and left here when I was seven years old. I went with my parents and things happened and I was always proud of my Samoan roots and I always wanted to represent my country when I was young, but I sort of pushed it to the young fella."
“Not long after we moved to New Zealand that I was adopted for education. My family wanted me to move in with a palagi friend who was highly regarded as a teacher back then, so I got double meals back then,” said Mr. Faoagali.
Mr. Faoagali shared his father’s name was also Ato and despite his son’s success, he will always need to fulfil his responsibilities in their family.
“He is known around our town to be a boy who runs every morning. They never knew that he was a boxer."
“But now they are like, hey that is the kid that boxes, so he is getting a bit of attention. That is good in a way, as long as he stays grounded and keeps his faith in God, which is the most important."
“The first day he got back from the games he still had his rubbish bins to take out, the usual chores. You cannot get away from mum’s chores."
“So we are still keeping him grounded because at the end of the day it is just a sport. We are all still humans and it is important to keep our kids grounded and bring him back to earth.”
He explained: “He is a hard working boy and he works really hard at his craft. Ato works hard and trains three times a day, six days a week which is a lot for a young man."
“Keep pushing him to be the best that he could be because he has tried a lot of sports and this is the one that he is good at."
“One of the things that I am proud of is that he is proud of his Samoan heritage and he wants to represent that other than his country of birth, Australia."
“He needs to put God first and foremost in everything, family and his duty to Samoa.”