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Local sports federations need to change mindset: ASNOC

Concerns about last minute fundraising to send local athletes to the XV Pacific Games was the subject of discussion at last week’s government cabinet meeting, with the General Secretary of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee, Billy Young saying local sports federations need to change their mindset concerning ASNOC’s role in the territory. They’re here to develop sports in the territory, not to fund teams to go to the Pacific Games.


Five days are left before the kick-off of the games in Papua New Guinea (PNG).


During the cabinet meeting a week ago Friday, the Director of the Territorial Energy Office Aliitama Sotoa voiced his concern about the move by the ASNOC to raise funds to send the team to PNG a week before the games are set to start. He was referring to the telethon and radiothon that was set to take place the next day (Saturday).


Sotoa told Young that they should have done this a long time ago, but rushing it at the last minute is something that didn’t sit well with him. He also told the cabinet that the Pacific Games happen every four years, and the ASNOC must do their fundraising over the period of four years, not in the four weeks before the games start.


Young said that he totally agrees with what Sotoa said, but also pointed out that sports federations are not doing any fundraising for their teams.


“All sports federations have four years to try and raise funds to send their team to the Pacific Games, but they don’t do that, they just rely on the ASNOC to raise the funds… and it’s unfair to us,” said Young.


He explained that all the funds they receive from the International Olympic Committee (IOC)are mainly for the purpose of developing sports in the territory, not to send teams to the Pacific Games.


However, he told the cabinet that the ASNOC is putting aside $168,000 to start the telethon and radiothon, but that money should go to develop sports in the territory.


Young told the cabinet that the sports federations are in a bad situation right now, and they are trying their best with the new ASNOC president Victor Langkilde to straighten things out and further encourage all sports federations and youth to come together and develop sports for the future of all the youth in American Samoa.


Young noted that ASNOC has been trying their best to change the way things are done within the organization, as well as trying to change the mentality of each sports federation — that of depending on the ASNOC to raise funds to send their team to the Pacific Games.


“Look what is happening now, we’re now using these funds to send our team to the Pacific Games, but not using it to develop the sports for our youth. We know that this kind of action is stressful but we’re trying our best to change things, so that ASNOC will be better in the future,” Young stated.


During the cabinet meeting, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga noted the government’s concern with ASNOC transparency.


“We want to know from the ASNOC what’s going on at your office, up until today (last Friday) we haven’t received any official request from the ASNOC as to what kind of help they want. We have hearsay from the public about what you want from the government, but the government can’t work by hearsay, so we need an official request from the ASNOC,” the governor said.


“You’re calling out to the public for help, so the government and the public are ready to assist you, so ASNOC needs to show us and the people how that money is used,” said Lolo.


For sports development, he said, “We’ve being trying to do everything to provide all the things you need, but we also need to understand what’s going on. We cannot continue to guess what’s going on, on your side, and we’ve been hearing some of the concerns from other sports federations, so, you need to sit down with all the sports federation representatives and discuss what steps you should take to avoid those concerns.”


Lolo said that they hope things will be better in the future.


“As you know, it’s our children’s future we’re worried about and the money belongs to our people, so we need you (ASNOC) to step forward and do your best for the benefit of our children.”


Young told Samoa News last week that “we’re now finalizing our list for the Pacific Games from the total of 140 to 120, which includes 85 athletes and 135 officials and coaches,” adding that the 85 athletes, who are now confirmed are the best athletes each sports federation has selected to compete in PNG.


Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and his wife Pohakalani Mauga will be part of the delegation to PNG as government VIPs, together with the Director of the Department of Youth and Women, Jonathan Fanene.


Fanene is the Sports Minister for American Samoa, and he will attending a two- day meeting from July 1- 2, before the opening of the Pacific Games.