The 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games officially began here this evening with an entertaining Opening Ceremony which dazzled those in attendance despite a brief technical glitch which caused a minor delay midway through the event.
Around 2,000 youngsters and teachers featured in the Ceremony, which aimed to reflect the mantra of the Commonwealth Youth Games, such as inspiration and empowerment of young people.
Following a rendition of the Samoan national anthem played by the Police band and a hymn from the Games Choir, the Opening Ceremony began with the Athletes Parade as competitors from the Isle of Man, which hosted the event in 2011, led the 63 nations taking part in the spectacle around the track.
Three of the 66 competing nations, Dominica, Rwanda and the Solomon Islands, were unable to participate in the parade due to having not yet arrived in the Samoan capital.
The event was attended by various dignitaries including Samoan Head of State Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin.
“Having been involved with the very first Youth Games back in Scotland in the year 2000, I am so pleased and proud to see this very special event now taking place in your wonderful Pacific island nation,” newly-elected CGF President Martin said.
“The next week will fly past.
“Do yourselves proud.
“Do your families proud.
“Do the Commonwealth proud.
“Take time to experience this wonderful place, meet new friends, on and off the field of play, from Samoa and the Commonwealth.
“Athletes, the Games are now in your hands.
“Let’s put on the best sporting party that Samoa has ever seen.”
After Martin and other delegates had spoken to those in attendance, the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games were officially declared open by the Samoan Head of State, prompting a spectacular burst of fireworks and lighting among total darkness inside the venue to bring formal proceedings to an end.
From then on, a celebration of Samoan culture ensued with the Ceremony itself featuring two segments.
The first was titled “Traditional Samoa”, which reflected the re-telling of the Creation Mythology of Samoa, including the creation of the nine heavens, represented through traditional dances and songs.
It was however interrupted by technical issues with the lighting, which caused a slight delay and an alteration to the original plan.
The second part was more upbeat and celebratory, reflecting the spirit of the people of the small Pacific Island, featuring a rendition of an ‘Ava dance, one of the most popular and most practised in Samoa, before the official Commonwealth Youth Games song “Here I am” brought an end to the evening.
Around 1,000 athletes are due to compete at the Games, which come to a conclusion on September 11, across nine sports - aquatics, archery, athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rugby sevens, squash, tennis and weightlifting.
Sporting action will begin on Monday (September 7), with none taking place tomorrow due to no sport being played on a Sunday in the strongly-Christian island host nation.
September 2015: Teams arrive in Samoa ahead of Commonwealth Youth Games Opening Ceremony
September 2015: Commonwealth Games Federation refuse to punish Samoa after Sierra Leone banned from Apia 2015 over Ebola
August 2015: Weightlifter announced as England's Commonwealth Youth Games Opening Ceremony flagbearer
August 2015: Workshops and "Just Play" fan zones to feature as part of Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa
June 2015: CGF chief executive Grevemberg visits Samoa to inspect final preparations ahead of Commonwealth Youth Games