SAMOA SPORT COMMITTEE BOTCHES OVERDUE MEETING

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‘It was a waste of time’

By Aigataule’ale’a Fatu Tauafiafi APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 28, 2011) – It took three years for SASNOC [Samoa Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee] to call a special general meeting that took place on Wednesday.

But a Samoa Observer source says they shouldn’t have bothered.

"It was a waste of time. This Executive was voted back on board in 2009 yet now it’s 2011, they’ve only got the financials for 2005 and 2006. It’s a disgrace."

For a meeting long in the preparation, members had to wait while a three-item agenda was being typed. At the end, only the first two items were discussed: the financial reports for 2005 and 2006, and Trust Board.

At times the meeting was a heated affair.

In one instance Vice President Lalau Willie Fong was told by Secretary-General (SG) Lepale Niko Palamo he’s not allowed speak.

The source said Lalau stood up and said as President of the Athletics Association he will speak.

The source said there is an obvious rift amongst the Executive heads where President Tapasu and SG Lepale sat at the head table while Vice President Lalau stayed at the back. This is not the usual practice where in the past, all sit at the head table.

There were many questions asked with no answers.

"Essentially they dodged the difficult questions and the meeting was quickly closed by President Tapasu Leung Wai with a prayer", says the source.

One interesting segment had certain members moving to forgive 2006 debts owed by individuals Leao Akeripa ($T72,048), Pati Tevaga ($T20,000), and Tupuola Vaa Potoi ($T8,918).

The motion was defeated.

Many from the estimated 21 sports association who participated said it sets a bad example.

Getting the audited accounts up to date is important according to Squash’s Norman Wetzell as it’s a criteria to access tax incentives available.

Mr Wetzell’s point is that sponsors are entitled to tax deductions if the organisation [SASNOC] has its audited accounts up to date. It is a key advantage to getting sponsors on board.

Arthur Penn for auditor Lesa ma Penn says they can’t do anything as they have not been given the accounts for the years in question.

"I understand they have someone working with them to get their accounts done. But you need to call them for that information."

Several attempts to get a comment from Treasurer Seiuli Fiu Asi yesterday were unsuccessful.

A motion to replace the current auditor with Su’a and Associates was defeated.

Also discussed were upcoming engagements to send teams to the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) and the Pacific Games in New Caledonia later this year.

General estimates are that SASNOC is looking for $T700,000 to send a 70-member team to the Isle of White CYG, and $T1.2million to send a 250-member team to the Pacific Games.

Many fear the bulk of the funding is the Samoa government. The chances of that happening this year are slim as government will prioritise the $T4million funding shortfall to the Manu Samoa’s rugby world cup campaign. It is an admitted higher priority than either the CYG or Pacific Games.

And with Tuaopepe’s weightlifting team not participating in the Pacific Games in New Caledonia then the equation of 240 athletes bringing home perhaps six to seven gold medals will be hard to justify.

Results from the 2009 Cook Islands MiniGames attest to this.

Samoa sent 160 athletes and won 15 gold medals. Thirteen of those gold medals were won by the weightlifters.

Tuaopepe confirmed he may not send his weightlifters to New Caledonia.

"But if I do, it will be a smaller team of nine or ten lifters. However, that will depend on funding. But if we do go, I am confident we will win 16 gold medals."

In the 2007 South Pacific Games, Tuaopepe’s team won 14 gold medals.

But what if SASNOC pays for his team to go?

"That’s unfair on the others. But let’s wait and see because my team’s major priorities are the Junior and Senior World Championships this year. We’ve never won one and we have the talent right now to do so and make our mark at the highest level."

When SASNOC will have the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 audited accounts available for consideration by its Board remains in question.

SASNOC Board:

Executive: President, Vaeolenofoafia Tapaus Leung Wai, Secretary General, Lepale Niko Palamo, Treasurer, Fiu Seiuli Peni Asi, Vice President1, Te’o Sam Te’o, Vice President2, Lalau Willie Fong.

Board members: Sebastian Kohlhase, Fouina Milford, Shelley Burich, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, Tuala Oli Ah Him, Faamausili Taiva, Samau Etuale Sefo, Alex Stanley.

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