Dear Editor – The TV telecast of the XV Pacific Games in Port Moresby inspired and prompted these observations.
Firstly thank you to Our Telekom for making the telecast possible. It had been so wonderful to just view a lot of the sports competition at the Games from the comfort of one’s home.
Of utmost interest as far as I was concerned were the sports our country participated in.
As an indigenous of the Solomon Islands, I am immensely proud of the achievement of Sharon Firisua, (3 golds), Rosefelo Siosi (1 gold & 1 silver), and Jenly Wini (3 gold).
It is particularly pleasing to mention these three athletes as the events they triumphed in represented new frontiers for the country.
In a sense they wrenched the dominance in these events from other well established power houses in the Pacific.
I congratulate and thank these three athletes for the national pride they have given me.
Firstly, I wondered whether or not our National Olympic Committee had been consistent with regards to the principles and therefore the criteria used to select the sports we were represented in.
It was noted that some of the sports selected had not been alive and active leading up to the Games.
I could be wrong here but the status of rugby league, swimming, and hockey must be questioned in this regard.
Then there is the issue of sports facilities. The sports selected included those which do not have the proper facilities for playing the sports in the country through regular league competitions.
How could we expect to do well in the Games and what were the principles underlying the selection of swimming for instance.
The fact that our swimmers would not do well against the best in the Pacific had been a fore-gone conclusion.
Yet Swimming was still selected. Its participation in the Games could be conceived as merely to practise using the cutting edge facilities of our nearest neighbor.
The country cannot afford to keep sending these types of sports to the Pacific Games.
It was quiet embarrassing to hear a TV commentary reference to the fact that we do not have any swimming pools in the country.
It was amusing to think that the commentator failed to realise that Solomon Islands swimmers had the biggest ‘swimming pool’ on the Planet and had been using it for training at the Ranadi beach. This of course is the Pacific Ocean!
Some of our athletes did not appear athletic. They appeared short and thick around the middle like a group of people suddenly called upon to play a social game in a sport demanding a lot of height, jumping, and the agility for quick reactions.
The images could just be TV cameras playing tricks on the eyes of the beholder. But the sights do not reflect well on the selection of the sport.
It would be interesting to find out how many of our participants were students.
It would seem very few if any at all which could mean that generally, sports have not been actively pursued in the schools. This would be a sad situation with regards to the future of sports in the country as well as sustaining this through the School system.
The overall impression one had was that the Solomon Islands participation at the XV Pacific Games was from a generally non robust, disorganised, and sporadic sporting base throughout the country.
We no longer hear of national championships being held in the various sports as used to be in some sports.
These championships were testimonies to how active and alive sporting bodies were.
If the outstanding achievement at these Games were possible despite these weaknesses in the sporting base of the country, imagine how much more could have been achieved without the weaknesses.
Some of the concerns raised here are not new. These basically called for responsible national sporting bodies from the National Olympic Committee and sporting federations down to the local Associations and Clubs to be always active.
As has always been the case, sports seemed to be asleep until the year of either the Mini Games or the Pacific Games. Then all will be very active fundraising to be tourists.
One rarely hears of fundraising initiatives to develop sports locally.
The leadership of the National Olympic Committee and the National Sports Council need to be shaken up in order to develop sports along some of the lines suggested and implied in these observations.