07 July 2019, Apia Samoa. World Champion discus thrower Beatrice Faumuina is passionate about sport and believes our Pacific people can address social-economic development issues through the advancement of sport.
The two-time Commonwealth games gold medallist represented New Zealand to the Pacific Sports Ministers meeting held yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel in Apia.
Catching up with Samoa Global News after the opening ceremony of the Ministers Meeting, Faumuina spoke about her love for sport and the important links to the development of Pacific people.
“Sport will always be dear to me but I also work in Social Enterprise and believe in the important role sport can play in addressing the socio-economic issues that face our Pasifika people”.
A New Zealand Order of Merit (NZOM), Faumuina spoke about New Zealand’s expanded aid program to the Pacific that includes greater support for Pacific priorities such as climate change, health and education, and the economic empowerment of women and youth.
“Sport has such an important role in health promotion and messaging for healthy lifestyles,”
Referring to Samoa’s successes in weightlifting and the recent breakthrough at the Junior World Weightlifting Championships, Faumuina said that sport opens up opportunities for inclusive participation and helps to engage communities.
“You know what I love about sport, is that when you can be the first to chart a direction for sport in your country, it means that you are defining a landspace that nobody else has ever touched;
“So this is the wonderful thing about weightlifting we have been the first in so many different categories;
“And also for our youth and our women that are coming through, because we are naturally strong and fit, and here’s one of the sports that is now putting it into fruition,” said Faumuina.
Faumuina is no stranger to break-through initiatives being the first New Zealander to win an event at a World Athletics Championship when she threw the discus 66.82 metres, 92 cm further than her closest rival at Athens in 1997.
Faumuina commended the advancement of sports such as weighlifting that she says ten years ago, we would only talk about during the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, but now, has become everyday conversation.
“And this is what I love about sport, it’s no longer about waiting for the world champs, it’s now everyday; and it is open for access for everybody to compete;
“And if you’re competing then that means the Mom, the Dad, the coaches, the village and community can support it too.”
The Pacific receives 60% of the New Zealand Government’s aid funds, with expanded programmes re-orientated to support health promotion and messaging for healthy lifestyles, including diet and physical activity as well as support to key interventions for preventing and treating diabetes
Over the next few days, Faumuina says that as well as supporting the althletes participating in the seven codes open to New Zealand and Australia, she would also be visiting with social enterprises and civil society groups in Samoa as part of her trip.
“Sport is always dear to me, whether New Zealand is competing or any Pacific Island is competing, our house literally shuts down,” she says smiling.
“Please don’t ring us, if you do come over, please know that we are watching sport at that time, so you have to join in,” jokes the World Champion.
“Anything to do with sport and tagata Pasefika, I’m there.”
Faumuina says she looks forward to supporting the New Zealand teams as well as the other Pacific nations.
“We’ve got a cross section from archery to weightlifting, and I’m also very keen to watch the Pacific athletes competing here.”
Faumuina is accompanied by New Zealand High Commission’s First Secretary for Development Taua Pati Gagau.