Team Anguilla at the Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games
Team Anguilla set off to the South Pacific island of Samoa on Monday, 31 August, 2015 to participate in the V Commonwealth Youth Games.
The young team comprising of 2 female athletic athletes (T’arah Niles and Janique Fleming) and 3 male tennis athletes (Xander Owen-Vasilis, Kohn Richardson and Antoine Laurent) were accompanied by team leader (Heather Richardson) and coach (Marvin Hazell).
After a delay of over an hour, the Air Sunshine flight finally departed for Puerto Rico, the first leg of the journey which involved an overnight stay in San Juan.
On the 1 September, hopefully after a good night sleep, the team departed for Miami on Air America. From Miami they journeyed onto Los Angeles where they caught the 22:30 Air New Zealand flight, arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, at 6:30am on the 3 September. They then travelled onto Apia, Samoa, arriving at around 13:55, ending the final leg of their outward journey.
Team Anguilla arrived in Samoa the day the village actually opened with intentions of catching up on some much needed sleep; recovery taking approximately 48 hours.
The team was housed on the college campus (Latter Day Saints) with countries such as Jamaica, Botswana, Guernsey, St. Helena, Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, BVI, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, St Lucia, Turks and Caicos Islands, Belize and Kenya to name a few.
The Samoan cuisine is very similar to the Caribbean cuisine, so there were no surprises there; plenty of fruit and vegetables and a lot of lamb, and the Samoan style chicken and vegetable dishes were found to be quite tasty.
Training for the team commenced on Saturday, 5 September, and that evening the Opening Ceremony was held.
The Opening Ceremony was truly an awesome and exhilarating experience for Team Anguilla. Hundreds of children and adults in coordinated synchronized dancing and fire dancers, one as young as perhaps 7 years old, were amazing to watch; never before had any of them experienced such an occasion. The feeling of exclusivity when Anguilla’s name was called filled them with pride; they felt privileged to be given the chance to represent their island.
Although Team Anguilla interacted with the other teams throughout the whole stay, true mingling and making friends didn’t occur until around the 10 September, when most of the competitions were over, relaxing the individuals. Time was usually spent in the Wi-Fi zone after the evening meal.
When Team Anguilla was not competing themselves, they had the opportunity to visit the rugby, swimming and track and field events.
Tennis concluded on Friday, 11 September, with the Anguilla Tennis Doubles Team winning a bronze medal.
The Closing Ceremony took place that evening and the team found it just as breathtaking as the Opening Ceremony, especially the fireworks display at the end that went on for over 12 minutes.
On Saturday, 12 September, the team opted to do some quick shopping that morning because the stores close half day on Saturdays. They also visited the largest Cathedral in Samoa and a public beach where an entry fee of 4 tala ($1.50US) is required for admission. That day they ate at a local restaurant where they tried a few local dishes and drinks which they found delightful.
The Samoan people made Team Anguilla’s visit a memorable occasion, one that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Besides the Liaison Officers friendly demeanor, and always ready to help, the children of Samoa were also extremely polite and friendly.
Although there were some issues that needed attention, on the whole, Team Anguilla can say that they attended what is known as and is truly the Friendly Games.