Gladiators Representing Unity
The Salt Lake City Gladiators were formally invited to the Tonga Festival held annually at the Jordan Park here in Salt Lake City on August 11-13th. This year was the 25th anniversary of the event that was put on by the National Tongan American Society. The weekend consisted of cultural performances, food booths, arts & crafts and different styles of sports.
The NTAS (National Tongan American Society) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to create and maintain programs that meet the needs for the Tongan-American community, their families and friends. Like their mission statement says it seeks to encourage the Tongan “‘ofa faka-kāinga” (extended-family love and care) that crosses ethnicity, national origins, gender, and religious boundaries.
It was a privilege to represent our American and Samoan culture on the field that day. Five local teams gathered to compete for a prize package of $1500. We congratulate the teams that took that home.
It is always a good time to play rugby on our home turf while celebrating our culture. Through Respect, Passion and Integrity strong characteristics are fostered and strong relationships are built such as the new discussions with Gladiators and NTAS.
Gladiators spoke with Sione Tavake, one of the tournament committee members about the event. Sione noted that the Tonga Festival celebrated their 25th year and that [this has] always been about pulling the community together.
Years ago, family and organizers of the NTAS Tongan Festival reached out to Sione to help with the Rugby Tournament and has now been doing this for the past 5 years.
"This year was smaller than normal, yet we understand the economical struggles that friends and family have been facing from these past few years"
He has always had a big vision for rugby here in Utah as have many others here in this busy state who want to see rugby grow successfully here.
"The 1st generation that brought rugby to Utah is starting to fade and it is imperative that the next generation keep things alive, passionate and better. Men's clubs need a real structure with a stable organization"
He then applauded the Gladiators for moving forward in a positive direction and look forward to seeing great things continue to present itself as long as we keep up the good work.
As we reflected on the past events and talked about the future, goals were noted to hopefully see this tournament be part of rugby growth which includes the Utah organization and maybe even this tournament being the kick off to games in the Utah Club season. ---
While we have several hopes, dreams, and goals in place for the future of Gladiators. We appreciate those that support this organization. It is through strong relationships that we can continue to provide what we do. Thank you Sione for taking time to speak with someone.
Gladiators are preparing for extraordinary opportunities and look forward to climbing that ladder.