LITTLE FIRE DANCER STEALS PACIFIC GAMES OPENING

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 28) – A five year old fire dancer has stolen the show at the South Pacific Games opening ceremony in Apia, Samoa on Saturday.

The traditional warriors dance shows bravery and determination and the little girl thrilled the crowd with her dexterity.

The ceremony went for three and a half hours but was full of song and dance.

Fiji led the athletes out into the stadium as host of the last games, Suva 2003 followed by the rest of the 22 nations which are represented at these games.

The nations arrived alphabetically, America Samoa and Cook Islands and then the world champion at these games, weightlifter Manuel Minginfel carried the flag for the Federated States of Micronesia.

Kiribati followed and then the mighty Nauruan team, led by weightlifter Yukio Peter.

He has represented the Nauru in weightlifting at both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games and is heading for Beijing.

Niue and the Northern Marianas came in front of the giant Papua New Guinea squad, promising great things at these games.

Solomon Islands were out in force as was Tokelau, the first team to arrive in Samoa after a 23-hour ferry ride.

Tonga arrived next followed by a Tuvaluan team led by their only international medallist, Logona Esau and then it was Wallis and Futuna' s flag bearer, Olivier Maleselino Taufaiva.

Guam came in led by flag bearer, Oceania heavyweight champion judoka, Ricardo Blas junior and then it was the Marshall Islands.

New Caledonia and Norfolk Islands, Palau then Vanuatu came out, all but swamped by the roar of the crowd when the Samoans arrived.

Manu Samoa stopped down for a haka, the crowd roar surged and the games where definitely underway.

Chairman of these games, Tapasu Leung Wai said he was pleased with the opening.

During his opening speech, Leung Wai referred to a series of accreditation issues around the games, calling for resolution amongst nations and sporting groups so the games could proceed in the spirit of competition.

Organisers have battled with several aspects of these games, most serious has been the accreditation of volunteers causing near riots at the central Apia accreditation office.

Police units were called to the office when volunteers began pushing and shoving after hours of waiting in line.

The accreditation passes give access to the venues, bus travel and meal tickets.

Volunteers had been on call for days without these benefits.

At these XIII South Pacific Games - Samoa 2007, Samoa is hosting 22 nations across 33 codes of sport at these games.

Soccer competition has begun, with 13 nations beginning on the path towards World Cup qualification.

New Caledonia defeated Tahiti, 1-nil in the opening game of the men's soccer competition.

Fiji took no mercy on Tuvalu destroying the non-FIFA affiliates 16-0.

In Pool B, Solomon Islands romped home to victory in their opening match, smacking twelve goals past the hapless American Samoa at J.S.Blatter Playing Field in Apia.

In the women's competition Fiji have started their South Pacific Games Women's Football Tournament with a resounding 4-1 victory over Cook Islands.

Papua New Guinea also scored a major victory over American Samoa.

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