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One Heart, One Beat & Together We Sail – Manu Samoa Coach

Story & Photos by Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA 5 JULY 2023: The Manu Samoa Head coach, Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua has urged his team to be of one heart, one beat and sail together to achieve the best for Samoa in its upcoming matches and ultimately, the World Cup.

The team embarked on a joint venture with the Don Bosco School yesterday in preparing, carrying and rowing the 40 oarsmen longboat – fautasi at Mulinuu that is symbolic of a team being of one heart.

“First, we must learn how to become a team so we can sail together to achieve the one beat,” Vaovasamanaia said.

As part of their preparations for the Rugby World Cup, 2023 he wanted his team to experience the fautasi rowing hence the request to Don Bosco to assist by allowing their boat and skipper to guide them through their training.

“This is not a village team but a country’s team and for us to be successful, we need the country behind us,” said the former Manu Samoa utility back.

Manu Samoa carrying fautasi
Manu Samoa carrying fautasi

Manu Samoa team and Don Bosco students carrying the fautasi to sea.

Don Bosco skipper Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel then got into action and explained the significance of Manu Samoa synonymous as warriors, to the voyaging journey took by the ancestors many centuries before.

“The Manu Samoa journey is no different from that of ancestral voyaging only it has different playgrounds,” the iconic female fautasi skipper told the players.

“For voyaging, the weapon is the oar and for rugby, theirs is the ball,” Vaimasenu’u explained. “But the achievement for both weapons is realizing the dream, and for Manu Samoa’s journey to the World up, the country and people will sail with you,” said Vaimasenu’u.

Excitement was in the air as the Manu Samoa team joined the students in lifting the longboat in a unison motion, then carried the boat to sea before they took their oars and headed out took their rowing places on the boat.

Manu Samoa blessing
Manu Samoa blessing

Before heading out to sea, the rowers are blessed by Father Vise.

Don Bosco principal Fonomaitu Mane Su’a reminded Manu Samoa that “training with the ball is quite different from training with the oar.” This was evident when the players struggled to find timing and balance in order to row in unison and move the longboat forward.

“Don Bosco’s consistent placing in any fautasi race is either the first or second place and the message to you is to put your hearts into your performance,” Fonomaitu told the players with oars ready.

The oars are much heavier than the ball and compared to the small physical size of the students that rowed the boat, it was far from the physique and sizes of the Manu Samoa team.

Manu Samoa oars in hand
Manu Samoa oars in hand

After the blessing, the Manu Samoa team are ready with oars in hand.

“It’s not your physical size, but your heart as with Don Bosco’s motto – One Beat,” said Fonomaitu. “It is crucial that you’re of one heart; from the management to the players.”

In blessing the event, Father Vise urged the Manu Samoa players not to be intimidated by any teams they will be up against and to have faith in God.

Prime Minister wishes Manu Samoa well
In a reception for the team on Monday night, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa wished the team well in their preparations and journey to the World Cup.

“I wish you all the best and pray for your safety, first and foremost, and may you have a successful campaign. Win or lose, you are our team,” said Fiame.

She said Sports are very important to the development of a country and Manu Samoa fits significantly into the profile of sports development.

“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you where rugby is at, where The Manu is at, but that is our joint endeavour – to build sports in general and also rugby which is a reflection on sports for Samoa,” she added.

The Manu Samoa team is in Samoa and will have Pre-Rugby World Cup tests with Tonga and Fiji later this month, tests with Japan and Ireland in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in France from 8 September to 28 October 2023.

Manu Samoa fautasi1
Manu Samoa fautasi1

Finding unison out in the open sea.