Moana Moeka’a: Quality not quantity

Monday August 24, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear editor,

With team registrations due this week, I'm hoping that excellence -- and not just celebration -- will be the order of the day at the Cook Islands Games in October.

I believe the Cook Islands Games should be the country's premier sporting event allowing Cook Islanders the opportunity to excel at a high level in their chosen sport.

But if “celebration” is to be the central theme for the October games (“Cook Islands Olympic Games”, August5), the event will continue to be a free-for-all fun-fest – focusing more on participation (with up to 10 island teams) and with very little emphasis on quality.

I have said in the past to throw out the charter and allow club/vaka teams to compete in team sports (like rugby 7s, league 9s, netball, touch, football, cricket, basketball, volleyball and handball) at the Cook Islands Games, as these codes are not played competitively in the outer islands (apart from Aitutaki, and the code of football which is played on seven outer islands).

Why not combine islands like Manihiki and Rakahanga, or Miti‘aro with Ma‘uke, or have a Purapura or MANEA representative, in some sports?

How can you run a triathlon event when all of the participants live on Rarotonga and most are expatriates? Would it make sense to have this event run on a Rarotonga vaka basis?

I'm being told that wannabe boxers are walking out of the woodwork, wanting to box. I give these guys/girls credit for having the courage to front up inside the ring.

But where are these boxers when you want them to box 'competitively'?

From what I hear, there are only three or four boxers who train all year around – one of them is a female. Maybe for safety’s sake, boxing at the Cook Islands Games should be modified to have no punches to the head.

The senior/open competitions – especially the team codes mentioned above – should have no more than eight teams competing (include the three vaka if possible).

In 2015, the rugby 7s event ended up with six teams -- the three vaka on Rarotonga and three “outer island” teams.

Probably only volleyball (beach), soccer and lawn bowls should merit more teams (if you add any of the three vaka teams as opposed to just a solitary Rarotonga side).

In open athletics, there should be no more than six competitors in the sprints (100m/200m/400m), and eight in the long-distance and field events. All events should run as finals.

Have the athletics officials go through the list of competitors and put a line through those who don't measure up. If there are two or more finalists from one island, then so be it.

You put quality competitors in the events, you generate excitement and identify talent for the future. You dilute the competition, you end up with a shambles.

And shorten the times for some team games (eg netball, football, touch). The Australian Football League and New Zealand netball league have done this in their current competitions.

Restrict individual participation to only two sports. If an island can only participate in 10 codes (instead of the 21 proposed plus traditional sports), then all the better. What I want to see is quality performances.

I have previously thrown in the idea of staging the Cook Islands Games throughout the year (via national championships). However we can leave that for another Games.

Kia manuia,

Moana Moeka'a

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