I have just had a wonderful experience that I want to share with you.
I have just had a two-day visit to Samoa, an idyllic island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was a truly inspiring visit.
I was in Samoa to make good on our promise from earlier this year to give non-branded SKINS gear used by the Samoan national team during the Rugby World Cup, to grassroots players. We also re placed the national squad’s kit with branded gear.
We partnered with Samoa and Tonga at the time of the Rugby World Cup after we saw a fabulous documentary on the Pacific Islands rugby heritage called “Pacific Warriors’. We saw huge issues facing the Pacific Islands rugby fraternity and wanted to help. We also thought the Pacific Islands’ rugby players were a great fit for SKINS. As a lifelong rugby fan, I especially love the way they play the game with so much flair and passion.
Today’s handover ceremony was in conjunction with Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Steven Ciobo, as well as three other Australian MPs from both sides of the political divide.
Also participating in the ceremony was the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielagaoi (a great sports lover), the CEO of Samoa Rugby, the head coach and many of the players from the World Cup squad and Manu Samoa 7s.
We extended the partnership with Samoa further by including Samoa Netball. I was keen to include a sport that is played predominantly by girls and women, because at SKINS we believe it’s vital to also support women’s sport.
It was wonderful to meet with the CEO of Samoa Netball, Rosemarie Esera, to talk about how we can work together even more to help Samoan netball. Rosemarie said that just the thought of having SKINS product was a huge fillip for the national team players in a sport that struggles for corporate support.
Interestingly, 15% (29,000) of Samoa’s population of 190,000 play netball, of whom around 3,000 are men. This gives you an idea of its popularity.
Meeting the locals, from the Prime Minister down, and having a chance to chat with them, I have gone away with a recharged belief in human nature. They are just stunning, warm, friendly, open people.
So far removed from all that we see and have read about in recent times with what is wrong with sport, and which I usually write about – for example in cycling, cricket, football and athletics.
It was a real privilege and honour to be able to help the national team players of Samoa Rugby and Samoa Netball, as well as their grassroots players, and we look forward to working with them, and other teams in the Pacific, into the future.
PS. The ‘Pacific Warriors’ documentary is available on iTunes. Do yourself a favour – get it.