SWEET VICTORY: I’M THANKFUL THAT GOD IS A SAMOAN, TUILAEPA SAYS
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was a proud man yesterday.The Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) was among tens of thousands of Samoans here and abroad who celebrated Manu Samoa’s 26-19 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.But for the duration of the game as the lead kept changing, Tuilaepa admitted it was not easy.“Even I didn’t cease praying at the time of the game because it gives the team strength,” he told the Sunday Samoan. “It helps them.”Prayers, the Prime Minister said, allows angels “to overthrow the ball of the opposing team” and “keep our balls heading in the right direction.“That’s the spiritual strength that we should all depend on because the church ministers of those other countries are also praying. What I’m thankful for is that God is a Samoan.”During an interview at his Siusega home yesterday, Tuilaepa said he was proud of coach Stephen Betham, captain David Lemi and the entire Manu Samoa team.“It is a great victory for Samoa and for rugby,” a smiling Tuilaepa said.The Prime Minister said Manu Samoa has demonstrated yet again that Samoan rugby can foot it with the best teams in the world. The win is proof of the vast improvement in the standard of rugby in Samoa.“The boys played with confidence and the game showed that a lot of them are used to playing at the international level,” said Tuilaepa. “So this win will help them to go forward as it has removed their fear about the big teams.”The victory over Wales was Manu Samoa’s second on its tour of the Northern Hemisphere. Last week, they smashed Canada, 42-12. Their remaining game is against France, the second best team in the world.The Prime Minister urged the players to continue the momentum. He said a “clean sweep” is well within the team’s range and he hopes they can pull through.As an incentive, Tuilaepa said this might also be a good time to discuss bonuses for the team if they win all their matches.“That’s the spiritual strength that we should all depend on because the church ministers of those other countries are also praying. What I’m thankful for is that God is a Samoan.”“We will discuss the details next week and we will let you know.”Meanwhile, Tuilaepa said days like yesterday made all the effort to fundraise to send national teams on tours worthwhile. The Samoa Rugby Union struggled to raise over a million tala to send the team.But they did.So Tuilaepa acknowledged the support of sponsors such as Digicel, SIFA and the TAB. He said the wonderful aspect about teams who win is the fact that they easily attract sponsors.The Prime Minister also said the Samoa Rugby Union tries to promote opportunities such as the current tour as our players sorely need the chance to play at the top level. Tuilaepa was also critical of professional clubs who become a barrier to that development by offering incentives to players not to turn up for their countries.Although the Prime Minister was happy man yesterday, he had one gripe. He criticised Radio 2AP and the FM stations for not carrying the game in the Samoan language.“Radio 2AP should have had a commentator on hand to commentate the game in Samoan because this was the game the whole country had been waiting for,” said the Prime Minister.