Samoan sports stars of the future
The Samoa Sports Association (SSA) last week hosted a special function to announce its Youth Scholarship winners. Prominent sports personalities including Frank Bunce, Linda Vagana and Reuben Wiki amongst invited guests. Some of the biggest names in sports were SSA scholarship recipients.
Current Black Caps captain, Ross Taylor got his scholarship in 2004 and later went on to win the SSA’s Supreme Sports Award in 2007 etching his name alongside David Tua, Beatrice Faumuina, Valerie Vili to name a few.
Another scholarship awardee was Sonny Bill Williams
The scheme’s ultimate goal is the promotion of education.
President, Papali’itele Peter Fatialofa told the Samoa Observer, “The scholarship scheme aims to promote healthy lifestyles for Samoan youth in New Zealand through education.”
He re-emphasizes the importance of education. “If you have a talent for sports that’s your ticket to a better life,” he explains.
“But you still need that education in case you don’t make it to the top 1-to-10 percent elite group who make their full-time living out of the sport. Education is important because it allows you to benefit from services around sports whether it’s as a trainer, coach, an analyst, administrator, commentator or whatever.
It means the youth of today with sports interest can have a career if they don’t make it to the big time.
“And SSA is well positioned to help link them to the right people in our network.”
This year sees the largest number of applicants with 129 young athletes putting their hands up. However, only eleven were successful.
“It’s the largest number of applicants we’ve received since I’ve been involved,” admits Papalii.
“But the sad thing is we only have so much. So we’re constantly looking for avenues to get more funding for our promising youths.” The number of eligible and talented youth is on the rise across Auckland and across NZ which makes, “it really hard to turn down applicants,” says Papalii. But there are options for those that miss out.
“Because of our partners and network there is flexibility for getting support from different corporates out there that are after more specific or certain sports/athletes which are not on our winners’ list.” Which is why he is challenging sports administrators to get out of their comfort zone and promote their athletes.
“This year we have minor sports like swimming, canoeing winning scholarships. The message is clear, sports administrators need to actively promote their athletes, to hook up with our association and get their athletes profiled which can lead to them gaining assistance.”
The Association’s Youth Scholarship scheme was established in 2003 and so far has awarded scholarships to more than 135 junior sportsmen and women totaling more than $100,000.