The Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth Youth Games contingent arrived safely in Apia, Samoa on Thursday 3rd September 2015. The team was greeted with a warm welcome by liaison Peni and was transported to the Latter Day Saints Church College to get acquainted with the athlete’s village. The team is happy to be in Samoa and have settled into the accommodation quite well.
Later that afternoon was the Chef de Mission’s meeting to discuss details of the Opening Ceremony and other important details. Samoa 2015 Chef, Jeannette Small, expressed that the difference in the culture was apparent from the modes of transport, houses, male clothing and the number of churches. In Samoan culture, family and church play an important role to the people of the small Pacific island.
The following morning (September 4th), training commenced for the athletes with a light one-hour session. After training, the volunteers gave the team a tour of Apia, which is the capital city of Samoa. Everyone shopped around for local items, with Jeron Thompson fully embracing the culture by purchasing one of the traditional male wear called the lava-lava.
On the day of the opening ceremony, the athletes had their last day of training before competition on the 7th September. In addition, the Technical meeting was held for Swimming confirming Jeron's participation in 50m & 100m breaststroke, 50m freestyle, 50m & 100m butterfly, 50m backstroke and Amira's participation in 50m & 100m Freestyle, 50m butterfly and 50m backstroke. Unique to the games is a combined federation 200m mixed medley where team TTO chose to pair with Jamaica.
After the days’ activities, everyone waited in anticipation for the Opening of the Games. 2,000 young cast members and teachers from 13 different Samoan schools featured in the Vth Commonwealth Youth Games Ceremonies, which took place on 5th September with an immersive and uniquely Pacific-style Opening event. The Opening Ceremony was split into two main parts; Traditional Samoa with a solemn and more serious re-telling of the Creation Mythology of Samoa with Tagaloalagi and the creation of the nine heavens through traditional dances and songs featuring an array of ma’uluulu, Siva Ti’a and siva afi; and New Contemporary Samoa, a fun setting of Samoa today. The stands were packed to capacity both with teams and spectators.
The team experienced a bit of culture shock as the Chef explained that it’s natural for Samoans to sit on the lawn or in their fale (Samoan word for all types of houses, from small to large). But despite that, Team TTO had the pleasure of sharing their seating area with the Samoan national team and meeting athletes from the other representing countries.
On the final day before competition, the athletes had a rest day in which the team attended church. After church was the Technical meeting for Athletics at the Apia Park Sports Complex where the manager received the numbers and schedule for Akanni Hislop and Akidah Briggs.