An epic injustice unfolds for Samoa

Manu Samoa - they fought a battle on and off the field

By now you’ve heard or read the report from Manu Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger to Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, outlining in detail what went on behind the scenes in the Manu Samoa’s Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign. Is this Schwalger’s attempt at getting back at the system? Is Schwalger being a whiner and a crybaby? Is he doing it for fame and fortune?

History, on the contrary, shows us that Schwalger’s incendiary charges against the status quo are his attempt to take responsibility for what must happen now to secure Samoa Rugby’s future. As United States President Abraham Lincoln once said of responsibility, ““You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Schwalger’s stand against those in power is a stride forward as a people, not as an individual. That is the mark of a true leader.

Are you shocked by his allegations? Truthfully, this should not come as a shock to anyone who has ever had dealings with any organization that has a history of back-door politics, a totalitarian leadership, dishonest practices and a unilateral decision making process that shuns its nose at opposition and holds its cards close to its chest.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Schwalger fingers the four men who have a near absolute hold over the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU), namely CEO Su’a Peter Schuster, Vice Chairman Lefau Harry Schuster, Team Manager Tuala Mathew Vaea and Assistant Team Manager Ryan Schuster. In their hands these four men had the power to construct and execute a flawless campaign, provide leadership and direction, instill a sense of calm and security and put in place a well-oiled system for the team to draw from the fiscal and expressive support of its governing body and people.

Instead, according to Schwalger, the team suffered through financial uncertainty, numerous external disruptions, a lack of managerial output and support, a mismanagement of funds and access to crucial information and resources and so on and so forth. Ask yourself this question – Can you even run a junior league soccer team this way let alone a team of professional rugby players? The answer is a clear and an unequivocal ‘No’.

From the outset there appeared to be no indication of the malignancy and ineptitude in the overall operation and management of the team. It would seem, however, from Schwalger’s letter that what happened on the surface is contrary to what was happening behind the scenes. That is a credit to the Manu Samoa players and coaches and a black eye for the SRU board and its members.

Schwalger, who along with his Manu Samoa teammates, showed enormous poise, professionalism and humility while representing Samoa throughout the tournament, a true testament of their loyalty and love for the people of Samoa. Through their actions, the firm of Schuster, Schuster, Vaea and Schuster (SSVS) showed the exact opposite in their reckless disregard for the people of Samoa who raised funds, many from their meager earnings, to assist Manu Samoa in their efforts. While Schwalger and the boys bled, fought and yearned for their country, the SSVS management team showed a lack of compassion and an overall disdain for Samoa as a whole through their mismanagement of the team and their revelry at the expense of Manu Samoa, a nation and its people.

So what can Samoa’s Prime Minister and President of the SRU do to patch up the sizeable hole in the sinking Manu Samoa ship? Perhaps the Prime Minister can take these humble suggestions to heart:

1) Conduct an independent audit – Reports indicate that the PM has already commissioned an independent audit of financial records but what firm has he hired to take on this monumental task and have those records already been secured or will we be reading about an ‘Enron-esque’ destruction of records to cover the paper trail? Is there even a paper trail to follow? To ensure absolute transparency and the trust of the people, I would suggest that the audit is conducted by a firm outside of Samoa with no obvious or implied biases.

2) Conduct interviews – Appoint a committee to conduct interviews of past and present Manu Samoa players, coaches and management. Like the audit firm, the committee should again consist of individuals who are themselves properly screened by an independent panel to confirm that there are no apparent biases or loyalties. During the interviews compile a list of discrepancies, positives, negatives or managerial issues that have spanned the tenure of the current SRU board and its members.

3) Clean house – based on the findings of the audit and from the interviews and sworn statements taken during the inquiry, make a final assessment and clear out the offenders. By taking the first two steps you have the evidence to support Schwalger’s claims to remove those who have become a burden to Samoa and its efforts.

Samoa’s leaders often speak of ‘transparency’ in its efforts to run a smooth and orderly system of government. The people of Samoa are entitled to an answer in light of Mahonri Schwalgers allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Why? Because the people of Samoa honored its sons, Manu Samoa with their hard earned money and therefore became a silent partner in the RWC campaign. Samoans and fans of Manu Samoa have been dealt a big blow by Schwalger’s revelations. We have been duped by a group of elitists who have cashed in on the hopes of a nation and they should be dealt with severely if these allegations prove to be true.

Samoa’s motto is “”Fa’avae Samoa i le Atua” (Samoa is founded on God) and it is upon that barometer of values and morals that Samoa prides itself upon that our actions should be judged. If the actions of these four men and to an extent those who conspired with them during the Rugby World Cup to enjoy themselves on Samoa’s bill are substantiated, than this is a clear act of insensitive, inconsiderate selfishness such as I have rarely encountered in my life.

I love Samoa and it is evident from media reports that Mahonri Schwalger and his Manu Samoa teammates who have now been disbanded all love Samoa as well. Why else would they play for a team that literally made them pay for the right to play for Samoa? Reading the reports of these injustices sullies the image of our people and discredits the efforts of our proud sons and daughters who represent us in sport, the arts, education and more.

Aristotle sums up our responsibility in this manner – “”We become just by the practice of just actions, self-controlled by exercising self-control, and courageous by performing acts of courage.” I commend captain Schwalger for his courage and all those who have rallied behind him to bring about a lasting and judicial change to a broken system.

27 thoughts on “An epic injustice unfolds for Samoa

  1. Wah wah…..Schwalger is a crybaby. He complained about the ref after the game and now the wolrd cup is over he is complaining about management. If he had problems during the game with the ref and management he should have opened his mouth earlier! Most importantly he should win games. They should replace his slow midget pace and crybaby leadership.

    1. So what you’re saying is no one is allowed to complain? Do you think it would have been a bigger distraction if he had complained and opened his crybaby mouth during the RWC? I respect your opinion but I think we should let this play out and see if his whining actually makes a difference, or if its just going to be more of the same from the administration. Crybaby or not, I still believe a change is in order.

      1. Hmm, just reading this posting Seti. Let me just address “Da Man”: Interesting that you are willing to call someone a cry baby & diss them on social media and yet hide yourself behind your obscure profile. Mahonri Schwalger did the people of Samoa proud by leading our Manu team against some pretty tough adversity and opposition. As much as I bestow every person the right to their own opinion, I would have more respect for you and your comments if I knew that you too were a man of Schwalger’s or any of the other Manu Samoa player’s league. They are awesome sportsmen who made many sacrifices to represent their nation in a brutal sport and with substandard equipment and managerial support. No one can discredit them & especially Schwalger for being men of upstanding character! As it stands, you’re just “da man”… like so many other whiny men out there. If you’re going to diss someone up in here, grow some kohones & show who you really are… don’t hide behind ambiguity!

    2. Really? Know your facts first my friend. You’re more concerned about him being a “whiner” an “crybaby”, when you’ve COMPLETELY missed the point regarding WHY he made a public complaint in the first place. smh

  2. it shows how unprofessional things are with the leadership. even at the amateur level we submit reports within 5 days after the end of tournaments, players get individual interviews with the coaching staff to discuss the tournament, lessons learned, how they performed and how they can do better next time. so far, this is only the captains report, what happened to the rest? well done to the captain. i always wonder why at every send off or at the end of rugby tournaments these people feel the need to drink beer when its the last thing the athletes need. good luck samoa, we need more people with the heart to stand up and say it as it is.

    1. Tai, this is exactly the type of thing I alluded to. Teams, especially national teams, need the opportunity to speak about the experience, download with management and administrators so that the organizations know what was successful and what needs to be changed. It sounds like this has slipped through the cracks because there were never systems in place to address these things. It’s good to hear that your affiliations with the amateur teams in Samoa are operating with transparency. Faamalo le tautua ma le faamaoni.

  3. I pray that this gets looked into by Parliament, and hope that the corruption stops there! As opposed to this having this very unfortunate situation getting swept under the rug. I feel for the teams, (Manu Samoa teams past and present.) that had to play with those things on their minds. And most importantly… That this doesn’t continue to happen!

    1. Lini, thanks for your comments. I really hope that the PM and his administration handle this matter delicately as the whole country and the world are now awaiting a response. This kind of abuse definitely needs to stop.

  4. Great writing Seti. I applaud Mahonri for taking a stand and letting everyone know what really went down. Someone had to speak up and he had the courage to do so. Reminds me of that old phrase, “If it is to BE, it is up to ME.” Stop the madness! Those players did not deserve this treatment.

    1. You’re absolutely right. The players should have to play and not be concerned about all of the distractions that went on. When you put your heart and soul into things and you see others take it so casually, it is bound to cause some bad feelings no matter what business you are in.

  5. Get rid of the bad. Managers are suppose to be the on-tour guardians, not hospitality drinking rock-stars. The world has watched the Pasifika teams with adoration at the loyalty and commitment from its fellow countrymen, women and children, yet the team suffers from pig headed, greedy, show-boating managers. How embarrassing! Go Captain…aye aye, lead the way with your courage and leadership. Malo lava xx

    1. There should be no rock stars in the board room. The media hype should have been centered on the event. Unfortunately, the management did not take into account that their actions would eventually come to light. I’m interested to hear/read how this will be explained away and swept under the rug.

  6. @ ‘Da Man’… How were the drink ups with the Schuster’s and Matt Vaea? or actually which one of them are you. Funny how you lay your criticism directly at Mahonri, but he’s the Manu Samoa hooker and your just the ‘hooker’… RUN IT STRAIGHT!!

  7. I was in Samoa for a couple of years & also heard & witnessed complaints bout the Schuters coruptions even in the village & club rugby level.. Just grateful for Manu’s captain for speaking up cos it really has been going on far too long.. “Money is the root of all EVIL”… Thanks for the write up.. Keep us updated pls with what’s going, & if anything is going to happen to these stealing bastards…(SSVS)

    1. Talofa Michael – Yes I think that is the ultimate goal for speaking out: to make sure that it is investigated and to make the necessary changes when/if the changes are justified. And I agree; Money is good, but the love of money is definitely evil. We shall wait and see what happens from here on out. Faafetai tele for your comments.

  8. To the faggot that calls herself Da Man. I don’t think you ever played rugby in your whole life. Shut the hell up, even if you did play rugby would be playing for a corruption team? Or maybe you’re one of them that are getting benefits from the SSVS ai lalafa squad. Way to stand up for yourself, your team mates and the rest of the country Schwalger. Everyone needs to know about this and how these ai afu eats up all the people’s money. Fire all them damn idiots or throw them all is jail for what they did. Let’s not forget the help from American Samoa. The Schufas I mean Schusters and Matthew Kaea make me sick……

    1. Strong words but I understand your passion. I hope that during this stage, the PM and gov’t can gather as much information as possible and make the right decisions moving forward. If the PM commits a “knock-on” with this one, than he’s no better than the alleged offenders. Onosa’i ma ia toe maua le to’a filemu ‘ae se’i tapua’i le tatou malo pe faamata e toe faasaga tonu le tatou sa.

  9. thumbs up to the captain for bringing this subject into the limelight..this has been supported by players of the past, which basically means that it has been going on for ages and ages..talofa e Samoa i lou tautiga ao lenei ua taaalo ai nei tagata le alolofa..really hope this will be taken into consideration, for the sake of future rugby players..samoan rugby has been improving fast over the years, and we now know that we can compete with giants of the rugby world..but if we continue to have these self-centered, heartless people running the board, then the development of the game in our country will go solution:sack them all!.

  10. Sa’o lelei oe Uso. This is an embarrassment for Samoa Rugby. Sad to say, but this kind of behavior has been acceptable in Samoa for a while now. It affects all levels of society in Samoa and I’m glad that the captain has taken a stance on this one. End corruption in Samoa. Mahonri for Prime Minister a li Seti. Another good read. Keep up the good work uso.

    1. Alex, O mea lava gei ua ka’u valea ai si kakou akugu’u. Ga’o le kigaiga lava o le mamalu o le akugu’u ‘ae fa’a le aoga isi le kau kiga a alo ma fagau.

  11. This is so sad. There are Samoan families that struggle out there and still make the effort to put money away for our team. All these people think about is them selves the selfish baskets ! This management team should’ve been addressed and looked at long time ago. I guess its people like Schwalger that had the balls to step up and reveal their dirty doings. Our poor elders and faifeaus praying for them in our churches and here they are partying it up and eating up all the money. At least I know for sure God answered our prayers and revealed the truth and something good is going to come out of this! To the management team? KARMA hits hard what goes around will come around hard. You money eating SCUMS!

    1. I think that’s the overall consensus. Even though we always seem to be dealing with this in regards to being cheated by our own people we can’t help but be surprised every time it comes up again. I guess we just continue to hope and pray that someday, somehow it will change. This is a good start.

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