05 June, 2010

Home at Last!

Our World Champions are home at last. The Manu Samoa Sevens team arrived to a rapturous reception at Faleolo International Airport this morning, where between 4,000 and 5,000 fans eagerly waited. Coach Stephen Betham, captain Lolo Lui and their victorious team brought home the IRB World Sevens crown, signifying they are the best in the world. For the fourth time this year, they brought home the goods. This time, it was the Edinburgh Sevens crown, the title they sorely needed to win to secure Samoa’s first ever world title. And a stunning performance in Scotland last weekend nailed it.

“We are completely overwhelmed by the support and the welcome from our people,” Manager Tausa Faamaoni Lalomilo told the Weekend Observer. “We were overwhelmed by the welcome in Auckland. There was so much support from our people there. Now we’ve arrived to this welcome in Samoa and it’s much more overwhelming.

“The solidarity among our people to welcome us has been really humbling. We are extremely grateful.” Tausa said the challenge for the players is to survive the next few days as Samoans look to shower their heroes with reception after reception. “It’s going to be tough but enjoyable I’m sure,” said the Manager.

Upon arrival at Faleolo, the team was ushered to the Multipurpose Lounge where a church service was held. Prime Minister and Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was among a host of officials present to welcome the team. From there, the players boarded a bus where they were transported to Apia.

People of all ages lined the streets just to catch a glimpse of the boys. Despite the ungodly hour, villages along the road to the airport rolled out the red carpet welcome. The bus regularly stopped in villages for players to greet their supporters.

The procession to Apia was long. For example, when the bus transporting the players reached Leulumoega, some vehicles were still struggling to move from the airport. But the long queue did not matter. Many people were prepared to wait. A good number of them celebrated well into daylight today.

Source: Samoa Observer (www.samoaobserver.ws)