Sport axing breaks hearts

By Staff Writer ,

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heartbroken: SSA President, Keith Martin.

heartbroken: SSA President, Keith Martin.

The President of the Samoa Surfriders Association (SSA), Keith Martin, is a heartbroken man.

Mr Martin is devastated that his beloved sport, surfing, has been excluded from the list of sports for the 2019 Pacific Games, which Samoa is preparing to host.

“We are absolutely heartbroken,” he told the Samoa Observer.

But he is not going to accept the decision quietly.

Rather, he has vowed to fight to reverse the decision -- if at all possible.

In a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, Mr Martin is asking if the decision could be reversed. 

“We would sincerely hope that it is not too late to include surfing in the SPG 2019, in Samoa,” Mr Martin’s letter reads.

“After having a very successful event in 2007, many countries have contacted me enquiring why surfing was not included.”

“After having a very successful event in 2007, many countries have contacted me enquiring why surfing was not included.”

What’s infuriated Mr Martin is that SSA was “never” contacted by SASNOC prior to the decision. He said they had even invited SASNOC, offering Aganoa beach as a venue for the competition, as was the case in 2007 when Samoa last hosted the South Pacific Games.

Mr Martin has also written to the President of SASNOC, Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i, for an explanation.

“On behalf of the Samoa Surf Riders Association and 10 affiliated countries of Oceania, we wish to request a letter explaining the reasons behind why surfing was dropped from the 2019 South Pacific Games, please?,” his letter reads.

“Samoa hosted an extremely successful surfing event for the 2007 South Pacific Games, the only event held on Savai’i.

“The Samoan surf teams have been training since then and competing in as many Oceania events as possible to be ready for this standard of international competition. We humbly request some explanation for our team, as they are heartbroken to hear this news.”

According to Mr Martin, the news is devastating.

“We have more than 10 countries wanting to take part but have been told they can’t change the format now.

“We have been training our athletes for 10 years to represent their country, Samoa. And I believe they are capable of games medals -- especially held here, at their home training ground.

“This is the first time ever surfing has been added to the Olympic Games 2020, in Japan. And the first time ever surfing has been axed from the South Pacific Games.”

The news is sad for Samoa, especially.

Last month, the International Surfing Association welcomed the Samoa Surfriders Association (SSA) as their 103rd Member Nation, further promoting surfing's growth in the Oceania region. Samoa joined Iran, Sierra Leone, Cook Islands, and Norway as the newest countries to join the International Federation, demonstrating the universal growth that surfing has experienced after gaining inclusion on the sports programme of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in August of 2016.

Formalised in 2012, the Samoa Surfriders Association is recognised as the country's national federation for surfing by the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee. 

The association's aim is to promote and advance surfing in the country, with a special emphasis on their junior surfer development program.

The SSA plans to field a team to participate in the first-ever ISA World Championship and send three surfers to compete in the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, taking place in Hyuga, Japan, from September 23 to October 1. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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