Cricket is gaining more and more popularity in the South Pacific. Reason enough for Samoa to take over the role of this year’s host for International Cricket Council’s East Asia Pacific Qualifier tournament for the upcoming world cup next year.
Co-hosted by the Australian High Commission and the Embassy of Japan in Samoa, the teams from overseas were accorded a hearty welcome for their time being in the country at the High Commissio’sn Residence at Tiapapata.
In place of Samoa as the tournament’s hosting country, Laaulialemalietoa Polataivao Leuatea, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries addressed the international cricket community.
“We should be proud of the way our women’s cricket team of Samoa is competing in overseas. And we can indeed be honoured to host this international event to support the sport of cricket in our country,” he explained.
The Australian High Commissioner Sue Langford pointed out the important role cricket plays in her home country, not only as a popular sport, but also as a way to deal with some of the problems of our time. “Importantly, Australia is serious about supporting cricket in the region, [within] the Pacific Sports Partnership Programme. It is encouraging healthy lifestyles, healthy relationships and addressing gender inequalities.”
As the International Cricket Council’s Development Manager for the South Pacific region and Asia, Kieran McMillan shared a very special relationship to the sport played in the South Pacific islands.
“I grew up in west Auckland, where one can find a particularly large Pacific community and I very well remember the times when we played cricket in a version that nowadays might not be the exact political correct form, Pacific Islanders against Palagis that is,” he retold his special memories of the early stages of the sport in the region.
For the Ambassador of Japan, Kazumasa Shibuta, it surely was a special honour to welcome the team from his home country, whom he wished all the best in the upcoming tournament: “I hope you will show us the best of your running, bating and pitching in the tournament,” he addressed the Japanese team.
The tournament started yesterday with the match between Samoa and the guests from P.N.G. and will conclude with the final match next Friday, the 22nd of July, in which Samoa and Japan will compete against each other.