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Athletes encourage Pasifika to stay in the game

Athletes encourage Pasifika to stay in the game

  • 01 Nov 2021
Motu Tony

Pacific sports legends have joined forces to encourage Pacific young people to get vaccinated.

A collective of Pacific sporting legends has united to play their part in the effort to increase the vaccination rate for Pacific young people aged from 12 to 34, by encouraging them to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Stay in the game! Get your Shot! is the key message from the newly formed Pasifika Sports Collective, a group of sporting legends including former Manu Samoa captain Lemalu Semo Sititi, former All Black and Manu Samoa international Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, former Kiwi Fern and Manusina representative Cynthia Ta’ala-Timaloa, former Kiwis and New Zealand Warrior Motu Tony (pictured), and ex-Silver Fern Linda Vagana, who all represented Samoa and/or New Zealand.  

The Collective first came together as Samoans in sport responding to the rally call by Samoa Tutū Fa’atasi, a movement that started in September to help increase the vaccination rate for Samoans in Auckland. 

Convenor of the Pasifika Sports Collective Lemalu Semo Sititi says Stay in the game! Get your Shot! is the group’s way of encouraging Pasifika young people to get a COVID-19 vaccination to keep them and their families safe. 

“Also, it ensures they can continue to pursue their sporting aspirations,” Lemalu says. 

“We encourage young people to stay in the game and get their shots so they can continue to enjoy playing sport - if they get their vaccination shot, then they can safely play games and a full season of Rugby, Rugby League, Netball, Boxing or whatever sport they love. 

“Getting vaccinated is the best way for young people to safely participate in sport with their family members, teammates and coaches,” says Lemalu, who played in 59 matches for Manu Samoa and appeared at three World Cups. 

Pasifika Sports Collective is also calling to action all athletes, administrators and coaches from all sporting codes to stand together to increase the vaccination rates for Pasifika in Auckland by joining this vaccination campaign. 

Auckland Rugby coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia says the Collective is focused on helping Pacific young people to stay in the game as sport is viewed as a legitimate career path for many Pacific families.  

“I know first-hand the reality of choosing sport as a career,” Namulauulu says.  

“There are strong financial incentives that can help lift an athlete and his aiga out of their current situation and set them up financially for the next part of life.” 

For many Pacific families, a lot of time, money and effort are poured into sports from a young age, he adds. 

“As coach of Auckland Rugby, I’ve seen how the sporting landscape has completely changed in the past three months. 

“People will need to make the choice to get vaccinated if they want to train with teammates, travel overseas to play games or competitions, and earn a living as a professional athlete, administrator or coach.” 

The Pasifika Sports Collective has leapt into the vaccination game and are hosting a vaccination drive-through event on November 5-6 at Mangere East Hawks Rugby League Club, 10 Hain Ave. 

Manusina Assistant Coach Cynthia Ta’ala-Timaloa is a key lead in the operations team for the event, aimed at Pacific young people involved in school sports or sports club members. 

“We’re proud to represent our countries on the sports field, and now ready to play our part to get our people vaccinated in our communities,” she says. 

“I’ve been supporting a few vaccination events in the past month across Auckland, and Pacific people are coming out in their thousands to get vaccinated because they see their family and friends helping to run these events. 

“If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, take this opportunity to get your shot and stay in the game for you, your loved ones and community.” 

Pasifika Sports Collective’s drive-through vaccination event is on November 5-6, from 9am-4pm, at Mangere East Hawks Rugby League Club, 10 Hain Ave, Auckland.