A breath of fresh air

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Thank goodness. The return of interschool athletics to big time attention this week is a welcome change. 

Even better with the absence of interschool fights – or none that we know of yet – which means all the attention is focused on athletes’ performance which is what it should be about in the first place. 

Those of us who have been around a while would all have stories and memories from the great days of school athletics. 

They are stories to treasure.

Whether its cheering from the stands, running out in your school colours on the track or simply being there to witness the best of Samoa’s young athletes on show, they were days to remember. 

For some, just taking a huge bag of food to enjoy the events was memorable enough. It would be good to get an idea of how many marriages started at the competition which became the meeting place for all.

But that was the fun of it. It wasn’t all about athletics and the competition. It was about taking pride in one’s school, it was representing your colours proudly, it was about friendship and the fun.

Indeed, there was something for everybody.

Which is why when the competition was cancelled a few years ago, it left a big void on the calendar, especially for budding young athletes throughout the country. It was a sad time especially when sports development gave way to bad behaviour, silliness and wanton violence.

It was especially sad for atheltes. You see, the Zone competitions and ultimately the Champ of Champs that follows is the stuff of dreams. 

It was the ultimate goal, the place young boys and girls dream to showcase their talents. They trained so hard, practiced for days on end to finally get that chance. And it rightly became a scouting ground for national representation. 

It was just wonderful stuff.

But social problems – especially the escalating violence among participating schools – saw the competition cancelled for a few years. 

Repeated efforts made to revive the competition failed and it appeared that the once famous interschool athletics era was a thing of the past.

This of course all changed this week when the competition returned with a vengeance, much to the delight of not just the students but everyone around the country who understands what it means and what it represents.

The decision to screen the competition live on national TV has taken public interest to another level so that now, everyone is following with great interest.

What that means is it can only get better from here – should the nasty things that hindered it in the past are not repeated. It’s important to note that the revival is in its early days yet. We have yet to see how far this wonderful era goes.

In the overall scheme of things, the importance of the development factor in sports cannot be denied. 

Without avenues and competitions to develop talent and expose them, finding quality athletes to represent Samoa becomes an extremely difficult task. 

For people who are serious about athletics in Samoa, the return of these competitions is a breath of fresh air. It represents hope; it speaks of a wider effort being made to give Samoa’s young talents a platform to perform. These young people deserve the opportunity. We owe it to them to try, just like how many of our past athletes were privileged with the chance.

Let’s keep this momentum going. Let’s work together to ensure this new found interest in interschool athletics is revived and developed to its fullest potential.

As for the students, especially the ones who have ulterior motives other than sports, please don’t stuff it up. Don’t be a coward.

If you want to fight, get your teacher or your parents to contact the Samoa Amateur Boxing Association so you can be given some boxing gloves. 

Have an enjoyable weekend Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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