WORLD'S TOP SAMOAN ATHLETES TO BE HONORED IN HAWAII

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HONOLULU, Hawaii (January 27, 1998 - PIDP/CPIS/Ioane)---Samoan athletes from around the world will be honored in Hawaii Saturday at the Third Annual Samoa International Sports Award Banquet.

The event, to take place at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, rural Honolulu, will celebrate Samoan athletes’ achievements in football, sumo, volleyball, boxing, basketball, rugby, weightlifting, strongman, tennis, cricket and Fautasi (long boat rowing).

This year's banquet will honor, in particular, the "All Samoan Football Stars," selected from the best high school and college players of Samoan ancestry in the 50 United States and American Samoa.

Among others to receive awards are sumotori "Konishiki" (Salevaa Atisonoe), and football great Junior Ah You, both now retired.

Jesse Sapolu, Chairman of the awards ceremony and center for the San Francisco 49ers football team, said "The emphasis of the event is to focus attention on student athletes," adding that "we want to give a clear message to every young Samoan that excellence in sports and education are important values in the Samoan culture and the Samoan people."

Organizers said the gathering will reinforce important values learned in sports, including "dedication, persistence, teamwork, perseverance, commitment, patience, goal setting and pride in Samoan heritage."

Masters of Ceremonies for Saturday's banquet will be Pulefano Galeai of the Polynesian Cultural Center and former Miss Waikiki, Tara Thompson.

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