28 June, 2017. Samoa –  Adding to the issues raised by the Lolesio’s in their open letter to the Samoan Rugby Union, other parents of young men on the Under 20’s team program have been sending their concerns to Samoa Planet. They would like their views aired but have asked not to release their names because of possible repercussions to their sons who seek opportunities to play for Samoa. Below are compiled feedback from Concerned Parents.

– Coach Junior Leota placing a couple of the players back onto the field after sustaining a head injury – what coach doesn’t know the seriousness of head injuries? Does he know the symptoms of a concussion let alone know how to do a concussion test? This is something very serious and every coach should know prior to taking on this role.  This is a big NO NO.

– Telling off the boys for going to the physio with injuries, after physios had  told the Coach he was over training the boys without recovery sessions and that was why they were getting so many injuries. Does he even know the physiology of the body and how it works to over-rule physios who are trained in this field?

– A coach needs to know the basics of food being fuel for energy and water to replace electrolytes loss through sweating. Water hydrates the body to keep it running at its peak performance. Food and water are the basic ingredients for life. Even the boys know this.
– We all know by now that when you put your mind to something, anything can be achieved. Now can anyone tell me HOW can any rugby team reach their full potential not only physically but mentally if all the coach did was intimidate, threaten and abuse these boys mentally day after day, telling them they were hopeless, weak and useless when they sustained injuries from his doing? Telling the boys to harden up when they were sick, from dehydration and hunger, flu and in pain from boils? When you have a boil on your face and a couple of boils between your thighs, you can’t run. An infection in the blood stream and head concussion are serious.

– Anyone can train a team to run and become fit, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out, but it takes a good coach to know how to produce a professional athlete, preparing them mentally to win, the passion to succeed and the physical strength to endure hard training and the outcome will be a winning team.

– Now the definition of a Manager – It is a person who is responsible for controlling or administrating an organisation or group.

– To start with there was no contact from him to the families of any plan,  he never collected any Emergency contact details for each player, or any medical details of any of the boys. The overseas players weren’t even informed that they needed exception stamps to come into the country, the HPU wasn’t even equipped nor ready to receive any of the boys arriving to stay, overseas and local. No plan in place for meals or water. Nowhere for them to do washing, eat, no toilet paper, no proper bedding for these boys after long days of training. No duty of care, even when kids had told him their concerns. Never once checked on the boys that were injured or sick nor any attempt to get them medical attention when they were unwell.

– The manager never discussed behaviour and responsibilities of the team in regards to code of conduct when travelling overseas whilst representing our country. Each boy was left to their own.

– Even at the airport in Auckland before departing for Georgia, they only had 30 minutes left before the flight took off and he was nowhere to be found. He had gone in rather than organising his team to make their way inside. Flights were booked for return straight after the games,  no time for any boys to have any injuries checked that they may have sustained from games or time to pack and tidy up at accommodation. A good manager should know to give players that extra day to have all of the above done.

– Does he have any idea of his role or responsibility as a manager?

– It was out of the good grace of the sponsors in Samoa which a parent helped organise, not the Manager that these boys received food and water at the HPU- no thanks to the Manager.

– We keep blaming it on money. But most of these boys came with money and were only too happy to spend it on themselves to eat, but they weren’t given the opportunity or means of transportation to go places where they can purchase food. We have so many villages close by, a good manager could have utilised our neighbouring villages to supply coconuts for drinking, fruits and these boys would have been happy to purchase.

– Words and motivation doesn’t cost anything. Running with the ball and getting fit doesn’t cost anything, Caring for a human being doesn’t cost anything. It’s FREE, so stop blaming it all on money.

– The under 20s team should be the building block for the main Samoan national team. If you don’t know how to nourish and prepare our young players for the years ahead, how would you ever have a good outcome in our Rugby Team? The NZ team and the All Blacks have so many Samoan players, we just need good leaders to bring out the best in them. Mentally and physically. Have  you ever asked as to ‘Why the Samoan players succeed in those overseas teams and not in the Samoan side?’

Last but not least we would like to thank all of the families in Samoa that took some of the boys into their homes and cared for them, and to all the sponsors that offered their unconditional love and support to our young men.

You were the only life line they had. We will be forever grateful to you all.

The Samoan Rugby Union yesterday, released their official response to the Lolesio’s letter. You can read it here: Samoan Rugby Union responds.


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