Sevens in Hong Kong was a disappointment, but at least the Don made the weekend a little less bitter for us all.

For those who don’t know yet, Don Opeloge snatched us a silver medal in his weightlifting competition in Australia during the Commonwealth Games. I’m not a sporting legend, but the Commonwealth Games is pretty much the next best thing to the Olympics, and if it’s not, that’s a darn big step heading towards it isn’t it.

But I recall a time working in the media industry when Tuaopepe had run into some mishaps with finding a facility for his team to train in back in 2015. I’m sure we’d like to think what they have is enough, but I’ve seen the garage style galvanized iron roofing place they train in, and it’s not. For Tuaopepe and his team to have made such noise from the back end of a “garage” it speaks higher volumes for where the focus should be.

Here’s a genius idea, invest the millions in Weightlifting for gear, equipment, facility, and expertise instead of rugby. I know the rugby experts aren’t going to agree, and it’s understandable, you stand by what you do. But since Uale Ma’i, Lolo Lui and Pesamino put us on the map in 2010, rugby just decided to take a hike, and not even uphill.

The backlash from Manu Samoa players that would arise in 2011 and solidified in our minds that something was terribly wrong – and not much anyone can say would change the minds of those who were affected – the people.

But that was in 2010, two years earlier, Weightlifting was always making waves. Ele Opeloge gave us a medal, and not just any, the first Silver medal for Samoa in Beijing Olympics. The investigations took some time, but it came for us.

Two years later she scored gold in India, New Delhi in the Commonwealth Games. Excuse my French but how in the hell did we not celebrate that?

The point is, rugby has become our baby. Nurtured, spoiled, and fed with a silver… golden spoon. Done so much that it’s become too dependent. So now whenever rugby cries for money we spread our palms and say, “Here you go little guy.”

Let’s throw rugby in the doghouse, force the higher ups in there to fend with what they can and see who stays that really cares about Rugby.

Instead, focus on what has been able to produce results with the bare minimum. Weightlifting most definitely.

The emphasis should lie with the most consistent one. Not that Manu Samoa hasn’t been consistent, but we all know they’ve been consistently sliding down a steep hill, and that’s not good.

For the past decade or so, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork and the team have been consistent.

Consistently winning.

So consistent that their actions and achievements should have overshadowed rugby’s many let downs in a country which prides itself on their men and women representatives.

The question is, why hasn’t weightlifting become the main talk of the town?

Because – the highest position for Rugby in Samoa is held by the most powerful man in the nation. While his position as President isn’t regarded as “active” but you can bet your behind it’s very “influential”. Because whenever there’s a call for “help” from the S.R.U it’s not the Board Members that front, it’s the Prime Minister himself. With the respect due though, he is fighting for a cause, and I’m not saying to abandon the cause, but the ’cause’ here is becoming an infant every day we feed it.

 It’s not growing, and just like how a bird teaches its children to fly, it drops them off of a 40 foot tree and tells it to spread its wings and catch itself. It will do one of two things; fly or die.

Cabinet Members and Members of Parliament include high octane former rugby stars including the single most important position in Samoan sport – the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture.

This isn’t a fault of the individual, but rather an influence of rugby on other sports as a whole.

Rugby and netball are played in school competitions and for a moment we believed there would be a boxing outbreak too. Unfortunately, it was only a stint.

Much like our hopes when Manu Samoa give up last minute tries at the grasp of a win every damn time… just a stint.

So who else is at fault? The Media.

The media are the ones who move the spotlight. That spotlight determines who gets attention and who doesn’t. NOT JUST A ‘ONE OFF’ PLEASE.

I’m talking about consistent coverage, development stories, analysis and so forth. More coverage on weightlifting and less S.R.U, means more demands for support for Weightlifting.

And this isn’t about just weightlifting as well, the basketball association are training a basketball squad from inside an abandoned stadium filled with dust clusters and sliding hardwood where players can basically slide from one end to the other without breaking a sweat. It’s terrible.

Volleyball is non-existent, and soccer is left to look like the outside kids that we don’t let into the playground because they have their own thing going on.

Who controls the funding?

The Government of course. But they move where the people tell them to. This is what our people need to understand. They control what the money does.

No matter how hard the P.M. may want to give a boatload of cash to bring in another Sir Gordon Tietjens, he bends to the will of the people. And it’s about time the people asked for more than just rugby.

It’s not the only sport in the world.

Joshua Lafoai

Joshua Lafoai is a Multimedia Lecturer at the National University of Samoa

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