In only a few short hours from now, athletes, officials, team supporters and the local population will assemble at the Apia Park Stadium for the official opening of the XVI Pacific Games.
Months of preparations became weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds until finally tonight we are “ One In Spirit.”
The rallying cry for unity will echo throughout the two weeks of the Games. By the time it is all over the call and the appeal of its noble values should be firmly instilled in everyone.
Please let it not end with the Games but continue long and loud into the future for every member country in our Blue Pacific region.
Climate change has threatened our very livelihood and all we stand for as never before. Among us in Apia this week are many already casting long forlorn looks into the far horizons for survival from the rising sea level.
If and when they are finally forced to seek refuge in foreign lands, they leave behind what they have grown to treasure all their lives, above all a unique identity of whom they are.
A Samoan forced by a matter of life and death to live anywhere else but Samoa will never ever feel the warmth, confidence and comforts of being at home.
There is no other place like home.
The best place ever to witness the true depth of the loss is right here in Apia over the next two weeks at the Pacific Games
If athletes are able to leave their hearts out on the athletic track, rugby paddock, volleyball courts or whatever field of sporting competition for love of country, there will be a pile up.
Outside of war, sporting competition is the best place to watch this intense overflow of patriotic emotions.
We as nations of the region are specks in the vast Pacific Ocean.
As stand alone island states the challenges of global overrun by bigger and stronger economies are formidable.
The lurking dangers are known already and we have to be grateful our leaders have sounded the alarm .
For our sake they have also agreed on unity as our islands nations best defence.
“One In Spirit’ is all about strength in numbers. We have to scrum up shoulder to shoulder as a collection of island states under our united banner of Blue Pacific nations.
Collectively we become a much stronger force to withstand the threatening, eroding influences of globalism.
Coming together in Apia is beyond a simple sharing through sports.
We cheer for our own individual cultural values and identities as a country, but underneath it all, we foster a brotherhood of island states.
As hosts, Samoa has rolled out her finest red mats of welcome to you all, our visiting regional family.
We pride ourselves as Samoans in our hospitality as undoubtedly all other nations represented here today would boast of theirs.
Our hospitality, however, reflects our own intrinsic social and cultural standards that we will try to impress you with.
Our young primary school children have offered quick snapshots of the welcome we have in store for you all tonight.
Whatever sport you will compete in, take note that a whole school of Samoan children are cheering for you.
You are their adopted athlete for the Games and they were out there at our Parliament grounds for three days since Thursday, to personally welcome you.
This is an experience of a lifetime for these young Samoans who are our future leaders.
One day they will grow up into adults with a deeper appreciation of your culture and national identity, from the unforgettable moment they sang in your native tongue and danced as you would at home.
Enjoy the Games.
Savour the special moments in and outside the arena of competition.
The Games are not all about winning or losing but of bringing us closer as a people of the Blue Pacific.
Experience our hospitality. Make new friends.
Talofa lava. Bula Vinaka. Bonjour. Kio Rana. Malo Aupito…..
Afio Mai. Maliu Mai.
Welcome to Samoa.