Pacific Games – the Olympics of the region
(Picture caption: Janet Main, Jasmine Teariki Davis and Dalen Pilitati pictured at the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Pacific Games, in Apia. They are among many other New Zealand-based athletes representing various Pacific nations at the games)
As Wellington-based Jasmine Teariki Davis contests the basketball competition at the 2019 Pacific Games with her Cook Island teammates, she will be mindful of her Cook Island heritage and give thanks for where she comes from.
“It’s a huge honour to be able to represent the Cook Islands… I am thankful for my nana and family and I’m proud to identify as a Cook Islander,” Jasmine says.
Of Cook Island and New Zealand Māori descent, Jasmine’s family comes from Ngatangiia in Rarotonga.
The 27-year-old grew up in Petone and started playing basketball at a young age before going on to play the sport at a high level – for the University of Wyoming in the NCAA Division 1 basketball league; and for New Zealand throughout the age-groups.
She has represented the Cook Islands three times - in 3x3 basketball in 2016; and in 5x5 basketball in 2018, where her team went on to win the Polynesian Cup in Samoa.
Jasmine jumped at the opportunity to represent the Cook Islands once more, this time at the 2019 Pacific Games which got underway on July 7, and will conclude on July 20.
“It is a huge honour and an awesome opportunity to represent my country and my family, and play against the other islands,” she says.
“Also, the atmosphere is amazing and being able to support the different sports is great.”
The 2019 Pacific Games is the 16th edition of the event, and the third time they are being staged in Samoa.
For the people of the region, the Pacific Games are like the Olympics for the rest of the world, Jasmine says.
“The Games are huge - all the teams here are trying to bring back medals for our countries.
“My personal goal is the same as the team’s and that is to win gold.”
The 2019 event is officially the biggest in the Games’ history, with more than 5,000 athletes and team officials marching in the opening ceremony at Apia Park.
Samoa is the only country competing in all 27 sports over the next two weeks, with the Games' biggest delegation of 506 athletes in stark contrast to the Marshall Islands, with just 28.
President of the Pacific Games Council Vidhya Lakhan has praised Samoa for delivering the Games in such a short amount of time after Tonga withdrew from hosting the 2019 Games.
"The members of the Games Organising Committee have gone to great length in preparing for these Games. In less than 18 months they have done tremendously well - I believe only the Samoans can do it," Vidhya says.
China, Australia, New Zealand as well as the regional organisations have all helped Samoa to deliver the Games and prepare for competitions being hosted in new and refurbished facilities throughout Apia.