Former Manu Samoa player fundraises for sports development


Former Manu Samoa player Tanner Vili and tattoo artist Kasala Laei Sanele

BY Natu Samuelu Tafunai

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 11 APRIL 2017: Former Manu Samoa, Tanner Vili today turned out to sacrifice pain for sports development of young Samoans.

The event was a Tattoo Show at the Taumeasina Hotel to raise funds for a Children’s Sporting Academy targeting tennis, golf and lawn bowls.

The utility back who was a part of the impressive Manu Samoa outfit that pushed England in the 2003 World Cup in Melbourne, Australia said this is a Tanner Vili Event with a twist.

“The twist is…I will be the one getting tattooed,” said Tanner during the blessing ceremony before the painful process that will test his physical and mental ability to complete the full body tattoo that many Samoans find “completes them being a Samoan.”

Now holding the matai title held by his late father, being tattooed is a major part of the journey to assuming full duties to family and country as a Samoan chief.

“My Dad passed away in June 2016 and it has had a massive impact on me. In December 2016, I was blessed to have my Dad’s matai title of Taelega bestowed on me by my village of Sataoa. I have always wanted a tatau and I feel like this is the right time to receive mine.”

Tanner Vili against England during the 2003 World Cup in Australia. Photo: Getty Images/Odd Andersen

Master Tattooist/Tufuga Kasala Laei Sanele is the artist etching the intricate marks on Tanner’s body starting on the back, waist and down to the knees and may take up to a week or two.

The process is being used to raise funds for sports development.

“I know Samoa has the talent but athletes don’t always have access to the quality coaching and resources that they need to take their game to the highest level, this academy will solve that,” he said.

“My big goal is to help more Samoan athletes to be able to compete in the South Pacific, Commonwealth and Olympic Games for medals,” said the former Manu Samoa player.

“I welcome anyone who can come and visit the exhibition and I would love for you all to attend and be an important part of my journey,” he said.

There were already some donations rolling in this morning when the tattooing started and will be at the Taumeasina Resort until the body art is completed for the final traditional Samaga graduation ceremony.

Former Manu SamoaTaelega Aiavao Tanner Vili with his family before receiving his tattoo