The Oceania Athletics Association, along with their partners the Oceania National Olympic Committees and the Paciﬁc Games Council, have hosted many conferences and sessions for athletes throughout the Oceania Region. However, this is the ﬁrst time that they are bringing their purpose to the Paciﬁc Mini Games hosted in Saipan by the Northern Mariana Islands. What is their purpose you might ask? It is to start conversations on educational topics that beneﬁt athletes.
Facilitators of the sessions here at the 2022 Northern Marianas Paciﬁc Mini Games, Regan Kama and Alison Fairweather from the Oceania Athletics Association shared that the Oceania Athletics Association conducts annual reports every year and ‘Wellbeing’ became one of the recent topics that was concluded as being an important aspect when educating an athlete, today. Kama and Fairweather are joined by Ryan Pini who is a Paciﬁc Games Council Executive Board Member, but what makes this position more meaningful for him is that his seat on the board was voted on by athletes. Pini mentioned the overall commitment, pride, and responsibility he has in ensuring the mindset of athletes are taken into consideration in all spectrums. It is only ﬁtting that the time granted to these three facilitators is used for the sole purpose of educating an athlete by starting a conversation on a topic that has become so prevalent in today’s world.
‘Wellbeing’ has been an educational topic before the COVID-19 Pandemic, but since then has only become an even more pressing discussion (and will continue to be). Everyone struggles with the upkeeping and sustainment of their own personal wellbeing. Although perspectives and priorities are different between athletes and coaches, the pressure of fulﬁllment and experiences of difﬁculty/trial-and-error is one in the same. Kama, Fairweather, and Pini are here to get the conversation started. They strive to provide education on how to ﬂourish back into positivity when athletes or coaches ﬁnd themselves in a negative mindset. Although the conversations are starting here at the 2022 Northern Marianas Paciﬁc Mini Games, it will not end here!
Another educational ‘Wellbeing’ session will be held for all athletes and coaches of all sports at 2:00 p.m. in the Grandvrio Conference Room, Grandvrio Hotel on Friday, June 24, 2022. All are encouraged to participate!
The 2022 Northern Marianas Paciﬁc Mini Games is an opportunity for the countries of the Paciﬁc to unite and bolster their relations. This message is even more so relevant today. Olympic Day, ﬁrst celebrated on June 23rd, 1894, further exempliﬁes the importance of diversity, solidarity, and the ability for us as people to come together and share in revelry.
Olympic Day was originally created to promote the Olympic Movement annually. As the years have progressed, its purpose and message has evolved and grown into something much greater.
Founded in the pillars of “Move, learn, discover — Together for a better world”, Olympic Day is meant to spread sports to everyone, regardless of age, gender, social background or sporting ability. This year, a new pillar has risen to bolster the message of Olympic Day. This pillar is entitled “Together for a better world”.
This year’s Olympic Day theme is meant to push the idea that together we can bring peace. It is a call to action for everyone, of any and all nations, to come together and support a peaceful world.
Each country celebrates Olympic Day differently. Some have incorporated its message and teachings into their school curriculum and some have their own sporting events.
Events like the 2022 Northern Marianas Paciﬁc Mini Games are an opportunity for athletes from various different walks of life to compete with other talented competitors. These athletes do so with their own hard work and dedication, and it is imperative that they are all competing on equal and fair terms. The use of performance-enhancing drugs compromises the integrity of these events and it is important that we ensure that no contestant has an unfair advantage over another.
During the Northern Marianas Paciﬁc Mini Games 2022, anti-doping procedures and programs have been put into place to prevent the use of these substances. Using the Paciﬁc Mini Games council’s rules and regulations, the Oceanic Regional Anti-Doping Organization (ORADO) is in charge of the anti-doping and testing programs for the 2022 Paciﬁc Mini Games.
With the help of Voice of the Athletes, ORADO has set up the Play True Pasiﬁk Outreach Program, a program meant to spread awareness and information on anti-doping and the rules and regulations. You can learn more at the Doping Control Stations located at Marianas High School nursing stations, the Marianas High School Gym, Paciﬁc Islands Club, and Grandvrio Resort.
In addition to their Outreach Program, ORADO partnered with ONOC Oceania Sport Education Program to educate, train, and help local persons become certiﬁed Doping Control Ofﬁcers and Chaperones.
Role within VOA: ONOC (Oceania National Olympic Committees) Coordinator for Voices of the Athletes Program
The Olympics is the world stage for the best athletes in the nation. Matelita Buadromo, a young female swimmer from Fiji (who proudly represented her country in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil), can attest to the countless hours and dedication it took to perform at that level. However, it was from these experiences that she was able to connect with a program called The Voices of Athletes and understand that the title of an “Olympian” or rather an “athlete” stems more than just the physicality of participating in sports.
The Voices of Athletes (VOA) Program is associated with the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC). According to Buadromo, it is a program that allows athletes voices to be heard while educating the athlete on the 5 key messages: Play Safe, Stay Healthy, Play True, Go Green, and Be a Leader. They strive to empower athletes to understand that they can use their platform to influence and inspire everyone around them. Matelita Buadromo is now the assigned OCNOC Coordinator for VOA in Saipan for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games. She reflects on the great takeaway the program has in partnership with the local athletes of the host nations. According to Buadromo, once an event is confirmed the VOA program coordinates 6 to 12 months in advance with athletes who are not participating but rather volunteering for the event. Volunteers will be trained about the mission, the impact it would have on athletes, and share ideas on games/activities that they think would be useful in spreading awareness of the 5 key messages. Buadromo says this program really is, “for athletes, by athletes”. The greatest takeaway from this partnership is that once the event is over and the VOA Coordinators leave, the volunteers of the host nation can continue the program within their athletic venues, creating what Buadromo calls a “ripple effect”. It truly has come full circle for this Fijian Olympian who is now sharing the platform with other athletes she hopes will pass on the impactful mission the Voices of Athletes program stands for.
Question: What got you involved with this program?
Matelita Buadromo shares that her involvement with this program started on the other side of the table, as an athlete. The VOA Program, she shares, is extremely active in Fiji. Since ONOC is based out of Fiji, she shares the privilege she has in participating in a lot of VOA events that are housed there. It started off small, with her participating in one of the events then sharing it with her sport/club. It then took a step further, as she was invited to talk and share the 5 key messages at bigger sporting events. Finally, it has led her to coordinate the program in regional sporting events with other athletes from different parts of the nation that want to share their personal experiences from the program.
Question: What do you want athletes to take away from the VOA educational games/activities you are hosting here?
Matelita Buadromo hopes that athletes will at least take-away one of the five key messages that the VOA program stands for. She shares that during her experience as an Olympian, the main mission was to train then compete, but by participating in this program you not only emphasize your role as an athlete, but you become a better person overall. This program she states, “provides a holistic value to an athlete. An athlete is already a great individual because you go through so much hard work, but these key messages are so important because it impacts more than yourself, like the environment for Go Green and promoting Playing True by not taking performance enhancements, but at the same time you are learning about HIV/Aids which adds educational value to this individual who is already extraordinary because they are an athlete”. The base takeaway of this program, says Buadromo, is just educating the overall athlete.
Question: Why is it important for athletes to know about the mission of Voices Of Athletes?
To answer this, Matelita Buadromo states “for me, it was amazing to learn and realize that there is more to being an athlete. I didn’t realize that when you are an athlete you are automatically a role model.” She shares that with the title, “athlete”, you have even more of a platform and influence on how people can positively impact different areas of their lives. “Sports is something that brings people together,” said Matelita Buadromo. This is the reason why it is so important for athletes to become educated on the 5 key messages within the Voices Of Athletes (VOA) program so they can strengthen their influence to not only their country but the entire nation.
Media Release 6/21/2022 Para-Athletes Program Continues With Success!
The world of competitive sports is a great opportunity for people to show their mettle. Through discipline and hard work, these competitors go above and beyond, achieving phenomenal feats of athletics. No group exemplifies this principle more so than the para-athletes. Through their determination and diligence, these athletes have overcome great mental and physical obstacles, proving that their disabilities will not hold them back. We have the honor and privilege of having these para-athletes competing in the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games.
June 17th marked the opening ceremony of the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games. During which, one of the para-athletes from Fiji was their team’s flag bearer and led their team through the opening ceremony. They were only one out of a total of 31 para-athletes participating in this year’s mini games. These competitors come from the countries of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Australia, and the Solomon Islands.
All of our para-athletes will be performing in the Athletics division of the mini games. They will be competing in events such as the Shot Put, Javelin Throw, and 100m sprint. You can view these extraordinary athletes compete today at 4:00 PM and 3:00 PM every other day, with the rest of the athletics events. The Men’s 100 Metre Sprint Ambulant will take place at 7:05 PM on June 21st, with the Women’s 100 Metre Sprint Ambulant taking place the following day at 6:50 PM. You can watch the Ambulatory Men and Women’s Javelin Throw at 3:15 PM on June 23rd. On June 24th, you will be able to watch the Men and Women’s Wheelchair Shot Put Secured Throw at 3:15 PM and the Men and Women’s Shot Put Ambulant.
These athletes inspire our viewers, as they redefine what a few may consider obstacles and challenges our beliefs regarding disabilities.
photo provided by Robin Sapong: Para-Athlete Christian Chee Ayee