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Samoa Gears up to host the Green International Va’a Federation Championships

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 04 AUGUST 2023: The British Government and the Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP) have lent support to the Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association (SOCA) to host a green competition at the International Va’a Federation (IVF) World Distance Championship in Apia next week.

Both parties are eager to use the event as a platform to send out awareness messages of protecting the ocean.

British Government signs MOU with SOCA
The British Government through their Ambassador to Samoa, HE Gareth Hoar and SOCA President Toaigaoaloali’i Mathew Wendt signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalise British support of $30,000 to help host the event.

“We are delighted to be associated with the event, especially that the British are bringing a strong contingent from the UK which includes our paralympics athletes as well,” said HE Hoar.

He noted the importance of sustainable use of the ocean and through a demanding competition, a message is sent out at the same time to do something positive such as competitors’ use of reusable water bottles to demonstrate the importance of caring for the ocean.

He also commended the events’ organisers for a fully inclusive competition for everyone and he said the UK has a strong Paralympic team competing.

vaaalo british
vaaalo british

British Ambassador to Samoa His Excellency Gareth Hoar formalised the agreement with Samoa Outrigger Association President Toaigaoaloali’i Mathew Wendt.

POLP AU$37,000 donation
The Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP) is funded by Australian and implemented under the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).

SPREP Director General, Sefanaia Nawadra said they are honoured to support and sponsor the event for a plastic free green competition.

SOCA engaged SPREP’s assistance for a green game after the success of the first South Pacific Green Games in 2019 which SPREP also sponsored.

“Efforts were built on what we did in 2019 in partnership with MNRE to host the first ever Green Pacific Games and our effort was outstanding especially with the involvement of the community,” said Nawadra.

The Minister for Natural Resources & Environment (MNRE) Toeolesulusulu Cedric Shuster acknowledged SPREP’s support, especially POLP’s assistance in facilitating the Green Games and support for the Single Plastic Used Program.

vaa alo training
vaa alo training

Samoan teams in training for next weeks games.

He said the ocean is the recipient of all land wastes and pollution and the biggest dumping ground for plastic and the event is important as it  has support programs which provides a good platform for people and visitors to support and ensure the safety of  the ocean.

The Minister further stated that the Samoan Government and partners are leading the advocacy campaign to protect and safeguard the ocean and one ideal platform for such a campaign is through sporting events such as the upcoming IVF World Distance Championship.

The IVF World Distance Championships Event Director, Ulugia Jay Schuster acknowledged SPREP and the Government’s support.

“We want the same message and we call on people to protect our island and ocean,” said Ulugia.

“SOCA takes pride in the ocean as it is pretty much the home for paddlers and protecting the ocean through such events is a step forward with a message that We Can Save the Ocean,” he said.

The competition is from 10-19 August with 28 countries participating and Toeolesulusulu who is also the Minister for Tourism is grateful to SOCA for bringing the games to Samoa