Record sports programme for Micronesian Games
The eighth edition of the Micronesian Games is about to start in the Federated States of Micronesia, with a record 14 sports on the programme.
The largest sports programme in the history of the Micronesia Games will be on display when the competition gets underway in the Federated States of Micronesia on Monday.
Fourteen sports have made the cut, including athletics, baseball, and Micronesian All-Around.
Football will also be making it's Games debut and the sports director for this year's event, Jim Tobin, told Vinnie Wylie they're hoping that FIFA will take notice.
JIM TOBIN: Our country, the Federated States of Micronesia, we're not a member of FIFA - neither is Palau or the Marshalls [Islands] - so some of us are trying to use these games to show FIFA to let us become associate members so that's one of our goals. With officials and coaches and athletes it's around 1500 [people taking part in the Games]. I've heard people say before it's 15,000 but if we had 15,000 our island would most likely sink.
VINNIE WYLIE: Just in terms of FIFA, what sort of hurdles do you have to get over to convince them do you know?
JT: They're already so big already that there's only a few countries that aren't members right now. The thing we want from FIFA is of course we don't have a world class soccer programme [so] we need development but it's kind of a two-way street. If we don't help develop ourselves they're not going to even look at us so we kind of have to run this tournament on our own - without any support from FIFA - and then show them the results of what we did and then they may consider that we can become an associate member of it would be Asian Football, it wouldn't be [the] Oceania Football Confederation. That's one of the things we're hoping for because FIFA is so generous with their grants and funding.
VW: In terms of the event itself, the Micronesian Games, up to the eighth one - where do you list that in terms of the importance of events around the region culturally and how important in terms of results and importance is it?
JT: I think for culture it's really important. The majority of our athletes are going to be under 20 years old. Nowadays with the ones that are over that they're either going to university or they have a family or a job so it's hard for them to play. These Games are held every four years. There's three sub-regions in Oceania as you all know: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. I know that the other two regions have tried to do Games. I think the reason why we're successful is we're not part of the Commonwealth Games. Nauru and Kiribati are but the rest of our islands in Micronesia were friends and are friends of the United States. They're independent now most of them, except for Guam and Northern Marianas, which are Commonwealth or territories of the US, so this is the year we have the Games which is the same time as the Commonwealth Games.
VW: In that context, will Kiribati and Nauru have a few people that won't be coming because they will be at the Commonwealth [Games]?
JT: Yes so it's very hard for them and we thank them for coming - especially Nauru [because] their group is over 70 and they're bringing spectators too. That's what makes these Games for our islands on Pohnpei and the other visitors is to inter-mingle with each other because it's all different languages, all different cultures and sports is a great way to break the barriers of language and culture just to play.
VW: As the organising committee what would be a successful Games for you guys?
JT: I'm never a person - because I've done many Games before - that really looks at medal tallies. I think the success is all the islands win a fair share of the medals because they've all tried very hard. I think the success of the Games we will find out from our leaders after everyone goes home is how much they enjoyed the Games and maybe, if the Games are a success, then our local governments can reflect and make sports recreation and health prevention a higher priority in the funding of the governments.
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