Fakaofo: Tokelau Kilikiti champions for 2017
The Fakaofo camp erupted into emotional celebrations when the winning run was scored. It didn’t matter who hit it, this was a victory forged around the ‘all for one, one for all’ approach according to head coach, Alesana Teao.
“This is a great victory for Fakaofo. For our village and supporters back home, and for each and every member of our whole squad who committed for a long time to one goal – to win this tournament.”
One young member couldn’t hold back his emotions. After hugging senior player Kovati Gasologa, his legs buckled, fell to his knees and broke down in tears as the realization finally washed over him – “we won”.
But a relaxed Mr Teao was not surprised. He was always confident the 2017 squad had the ‘right stuff’ to take the crown he told Pacific Guardians.
“We started the planning for this tournament straight after the disaster at the last tournament  where we lost our matches. From that disappointment we had one goal – Fakaofo must win the next one – so in all humility, no, I am not surprised.”
It was focus, determination, tactics, youthful exuberance, and guidance from te Hauatea that were key ingredients to Fakaofo’s unbeaten run in the 2017 tournament.
For the Grand Final, it started of in Nukunonu’s favour.
As the team with the strongest batting line-up, a wave of confidence washed through the Nukunonu camp when they were first to bat. Expectations of a huge score, one that would be far beyond the Fakaofo batters to chase down was the general feeling.
In hindsight, perhaps it was that ‘confidence and expectation’ that also proved to be a contributor to Nukunonu’s downfall. When their opening pair failed to score, and soon after followed by a constant stream of batters heading back to the tent with low scores, it didn’t seem to register that their batters were not performing.
Big hitters like Kalolo and Leone came and went in quick succession, both failing to score runs, yet there was still no sense of urgency in the Nukunonu ranks. Perhaps the odd six in-between, together with the constant number of dropped catches by Fakaofo, lulled Nukunonu into a false sense of security that their next big hitter would make that big, game-winning score.
At the same time, three other factors surfaced that would influence the match.
First, the persistent rain led to a number of forced stoppages. It interrupted the flow and concentration for batters while on the other hand, it helped Fakaofo regroup, refresh and re-inspired by coach Alesana and hauatea. In the second innings, there were no stoppages.
The second factor is the way Fakaofo fielders celebrate when a wicket falls. There are high-fives as fielders run in from corners of the Hagato Iosefo field to jump and congratulate the bowler or catcher. Women run from far and wide and hug each other – each celebration in equal enthusiasm and with each wicket celebrated as if they have won the tournament.
And the third contributing factor is the Fakaofo lape.
“It is one of the areas we targeted as key if we are to win this tournament,” said Mr Teao.
“Without a doubt, the lape played a significant role in our victory over Atafu. We were under pressure as the Atafu batters looked like they were going to reach our score with ease. Our lape raised our players spirits and belief and at the same time, piled pressure on their batters and it worked.”
And so it proved in the match with Nukunonu.
With the constant interruptions, not one of Nukunonu’s batsmen were able to establish an innings. It finally dawned on Nukunonu they were in trouble when a glance at the scoreboard read 161 for 58 out. They finally realized their final two batsmen, Kosema and Sio were on the pitch. By then, even though the last two managed to put a spirited last stand to reach a respectable 195 all out – it was virtually too late.
Dr Silivia Tavite whose team provided medical services said Fakaofo’s youthful and enthusiastic approach were factors.
“That is one of the differences I noticed between the two teams. The youthful Fakaofo team were always enthusiastic, encouraging each other. There was a dynamic element to their team which seemed to continually energize them. Congratulations to Fakaofo, they have done well.”
There were no complaints from Nukunonu’s Telesia Perez who runs the Luana Liki accommodation. She said Fakaofo deserved the win but that Nukunonu also never gave up.
“That was a really good quality game of Kilikiti, I really enjoyed it. And Fakaofo fully deserved their win. They played well.”
Alesana and his team will take the Kilikiti spoils to Fakaofo until the next Tokelau Games. But what is left behind are three atolls who played the game in the spirit of fairness and camaraderie reflective of the three atolls as one nation. This is showcased with Atafu players providing referees and high quality lape entertainment throughout the grand final.
As always, in Tokelau traditions involving national events, the last word is given to a member of the host’s hauatea, in this instance, Mr Nui Sakaria; and finished off with a collective Fatele.
For more information contact: Margaret Pedro | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. It is located in the Pacific Ocean north of Samoa and south of the Equator (9 00 S, 172 00 W). It is only accessible by boat, taking an estimated 28hours to reach the closest atoll, Fakaofo, a further three hours to Nukunonu, and another six hours to Atafu.
It is made up of the three small atolls named above, separated from each other by high seas. The total land area is approximately 12 km². The total sea area of the exclusive economic zone is approximately 518,000 km². The height above sea level is between 3-5 meters, the maximum width is 200 meters. Tokelau is therefore particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise.
The population of 1499 (2016 census) is spread approximately equally among the three atolls (Atafu (541); Fakaofo (506) and Nukunonu (452). The traditional lifestyle was subsistence but Tokelau has moved to a cash economy. The only natural resource of any current economic significance is the fishery of the exclusive economic zone.
Tokelau has no main town; each island has its own administrative centre, hospital, school and basic infrastructure. There are no airstrips or harbours. Access is by ship only, through the Port of Apia, Samoa.
There are approximately 7000 Tokelauans living in New Zealand, and smaller communities live in Australia, American Samoa, Samoa, Rapa Nui, and Hawaii.