Women from Solomon Islands’ nine provinces took centre stage in Sunday night’s Sol2023 Pacific Games Opening Ceremony, as placard bearers during the athletes’ parade.
The handmade signs bearing the names of all 24 countries competing at the Games were carried by 24 women from across the host nation, each leading out a national team ahead of that country’s flag bearer.
Cook Islands placard bearer Zana Tufua, from the island of Tikopia in Temotu province told the Pacific Games News Service: “I’m so excited, over excited. Because it’s the first time for us in Solo to do this. I can’t explain how glad I am. I am so happy that I get to hold the placard for Cook Islands and march into the stadium.”
Tonga’s placard bearer, Rowena Andreson from Isabel province, works in the marines and is an aspiring ship captain. She said: “I was a little bit nervous to do this role, but it was overwhelmingly historical. The Tongan team were so fun, I was so happy to lead them into the stadium. They are so proud of their country and themselves and their athletes, and I love that about them. I loved walking with them. The atmosphere was crazy and everybody loved it.”
Perhaps the most eyes were on the placard bearer for host nation Solomon Islands, Vanessa Moore from Central Province, who led out the 650-strong home team to the cheers of a fanatic crowd.
She told the Pacific Games News Service that it was sheer luck that she ended up carrying the host nation’s sign, as the placard bearers picked the names of which country they would walk out with in a lucky dip.
She revealed: “The moment I picked Solomon Islands, I wasn’t happy but then I thought ‘ya man, this is my country, we are the hosts’, so I’m really proud that I picked out this name and got to be the placard-bearer for Solomon Islands.
“I’m honoured and I’m grateful. This was my first time standing in front of thousands of people so I was a bit nervous, but I had courage, so I held strong and I did it.”
By Willie Fafale and Joanna Lester, Pacific Games News Service