Star-Bulletin features on the Samoa Football Academy and Medical Mission

About going to American Samoa right after his time off started from the Raiders, Samson Satele said:
“This is my week break right here. There’s nothing better than going down to Samoa and helping the kids out a little.” (HSB)

About going to American Samoa for a second straight year, Ma’a Tanuvasa said:
“Those kids are so receptive and so respectful, it’s an awesome feeling to go out there and see so many Samoan brothers out there. They just soak everything in. They’re catching up to us, but a lot of the kids are coming in slippers and bare feet and still kind of grasping the game. The coaches out there have done a great job; they already know a lot of the basics.” (HSB)

About going to Samoa, Tony Tuioti (who was worn in Samoa and then his family moved to California when he was 9 months old) said:
“The kids are passionate about their football. They work as hard as our kids here, they just don’t have the resources and facilities. It really is humbling to see the love people have (for Samoa) and see the spirit and I’m really excited.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Close to 1,000 high school athletes — up from 500 last year — are expected to participate in the free clinics today and tomorrow at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Pago Pago. The mission will also provide nearly $400,000 in medical supplies and services, $50,000 in football equipment, five $2,000 scholarships and several hundred pairs of football shoes.”

HSB Note: “Ellie Taft-Reinebold, the wife of SMU assistant Jeff Reinebold, is leading the medical mission along with a group of certified nurses and doctors. Jones established the mission last year after visiting American Samoa on recruiting trips starting in 1999.”

About establishing the medical mission after visiting American Samoa on recruiting trips starting in 1999, JJ said:
“I went down there and I had a vision that we needed to help. They didn’t even have footballs, playing barefoot. Normally a ratio is one (nurse) to every four to five patients. In Samoa it’s one nurse to 80 patients. They have a tremendous need.” (HSB)

After saying that going to Samoa can benefit recruiting, Mac added:
“I really believe it’s more than football. It’s getting to know the people, it’s getting to bring the people together.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Sapolu also announced the formation of the Samoa ‘Ioe Foundation. The organization will be led by Sapolu, Thompson and Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who proclaimed yesterday “Samoa ‘Ioe Foundation Day.” Among the foundation’s goals will be to build football fields and provide equipment. Sapolu said Jones has been in contact with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners in trying to raise support for the foundation’s efforts.”

HSB Note: “JACK THOMPSON, “The Throwin’ Samoan,” noted the incredible statistic that a male from American Samoa is 40 times more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan American. But the health care stats aren’t so good. Jones pointed out some of them. The more cynical among you will call this a glorified football recruiting trip. But $400,000 in medical supplies and services and the fact that this is the second annual venture speak otherwise of the June Jones Foundation. Many college coaches love the players of Samoa. Jones and the rest of this delegation are proving they love the people of Samoa.”

Praising the Samoa Football Academy and Medical Mission, Oahu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (who is of Samoan ancestry) said:
“This is all about going one step further. Don’t just look at us at (Samoans) as athletes who can add to your win-loss record. Look at us as people.” (HSB)

About how the trip is meaningful for her and her sister (Kelli Te’o, a social worker at Kahuku High School), Marci Tapusoa (a pediatric care nurse at Kapiolani) said:
“We’re proud of our background, and we want to do what we can.” (HSB)

About how people on the mainland just know Samoans as star football players, Tapusoa said:
“But that’s just the handful who gets out.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “They don’t see the kids critically ill from post-strep infections. “We’ve coded a few,” she said, hospitalese for they died. Respect for family elders is among the positive traits in Polynesian culture. But this is often turned on its head when an abused child is victimized by a code of silence.”

About how she will talk about how abused children are victimized by a code of silence, Te’o said:
“It crosses all borders, and there’s a mentality limiting who children can speak out to.” (HSB)

About the lack of programs for prevention and treatment in Samoa, Taft-Reinbold said:
“They’re under our flag, and they should have every advantage that we have, but they don’t. And that is wrong. This is not just an empty promise. It’s our second visit. Throughout the year we send supplies and we’re on the phone with them. Our goal is to continue to make a difference.” (HSB)


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