For the first time ever, the Northern Mariana Islands hosted the 11th Pacific Mini Games in June 2022.
A Bit of Pacific Mini Games History
First held in 1981, the Pacific Mini Games, previously known as the South Pacific Mini Games prior to 2009, is a multi-sport event where hundreds of athletes representing their home countries and territories in Oceania compete. The mini-games are a smaller version of the Pacific Games and are created to enable smaller nations to host and compete in them. They are held every four years.
As of 2017, there are about 25 member nations taking part in the games – Australia, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Independent PGC athletes, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.
As of 2017, 30 of 37 sports approved by the Pacific Games Council have been contested at the mini-games – archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, bodybuilding, boxing, football, golf, judo, karate, lawn bowls, netball, outrigger canoeing, powerlifting, rugby 7s, sailing, shooting, softball, squash, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, touch rugby, triathlon, volleyball and beach volleyball, weightlifting, and wrestling.
The mini-games do not have a compulsory sports list like the main games; however, 50% of the sports selected must come from the compulsory list by the Pacific Games Council.
Pacific Mini Games 2022
The 11th Pacific Mini Games was originally scheduled to be held in 2021; however, due to the pandemic, and the healing of the island from the destruction of Typhoon Yutu in 2018, the games were postponed and held in June 2022.
The games spanned 10 days from June 16-25, with the opening ceremony being on the 17th and the closing ceremony on the 25th.
This year, the NMI welcomed 19 other participating countries – American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.
Over 1,000 athletes from these countries contested in nine sports – Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Beach Volleyball, Golf, Tennis, Triathlon, Va’a (Outrigger Canoeing), and Weightlifting.
For those who weren’t able to attend the games or opening and closing ceremonies in person, available footage are still available to watch on the NMPMG 2022 Youtube channel.
At the end of the games, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and the Northern Mariana Islands ranked as the top three countries and territories with 80, 58, and 38 medals earned, respectively.
The next Pacific Mini Games will be held in 2025 and hosted by the Republic of Palau.
I will not be writing about any sports jargon, tactics, or general plays because I am still not knowledgeable enough to comment on such things. I will focus on what I saw, felt, thought, and my overall experience as an individual who has never attended any sporting event before. The sports mentioned are the ones I was able to attend in person.
I never thought I’d be attending the games as I was never really into sports, and if it weren’t for a couple of my friends being available to watch the games with me, I don’t think I would have gone at all.
The games, to say the least, were well worth the watch and experience.
I had initially intended on watching all of the sports at least once for the experience. However, after noticing how physically drained I was from watching the first baseball game (an introvert is in a crowd full of vocally expressive supporters), I didn’t think I could handle exerting my energy to attend every single sport.
But hey, four out of nine sports aren’t too bad for an ex-non-sports individual.
Athletics was held at the Oleai Sports Complex – Track & Field. There were over 300 athletes from 18 of the participating countries who contested this sport.
Athletics was one of the first sports I looked forward to watching the most. Sadly, it was also one of the sports we didn’t see all the way through.
On the day that we attended, the sporting event began around 4:00 PM. We took a spot at one of the high-rise metal bleachers to the right of the field and boy did we feel the heat, literally.
While we were at the track and field, we managed to get a good view of the men’s 100-meter sprint, men’s discus throw, women’s 100-meter sprint, men’s 100-meter sprint, and half of the women’s javelin throw and men’s 10000-meter run.
I was unfamiliar with the discus throw, but wow. The athlete from PNG had my jaw dropped every time he threw the discus.
As the sun was setting, it was getting scorching hot, and our umbrellas didn’t help us out much. Also, we were feeling tired as we had just finished watching another baseball game minutes prior.
We decided to leave in the middle of the women’s javelin throw and the men’s 10000-meter run, but we managed to catch the rest of the athletics from the live stream at the cooler space of my friend’s home.
Huge congratulations to team Papua New Guinea for absolutely killing it in athletics!
Va’a was held at the 13 Fishermen Memorial Monument Beach. There were over 150 athletes from 11 of the participating countries who contested this sport.
Va’a is a Hawaiian and Tahitian word meaning ‘boat,’ ‘canoe,’ or ‘ship.’ In the mini-games, Va’a is the outrigger canoe racing sport.
When I found out what Va’a was, I immediately added it to my ‘must-watch-in-person’ list. And thankfully, my friends and I were able to fulfill this goal.
Though not as what we had expected.
Va’a was held along Beach Road, and my friends and I chose a spot a bit further away from the start point, and the crowd, but we had a clear view of where the racing was actually taking place.
The downside to this experience was that we did not know what teams were competing, even with our binoculars. We couldn’t hear the MC from our location, and there were no updates on any of the NMPMG socials regarding the Va’a race that was going on at that time. Livestreaming was also not available for this sport due to a lack of equipment and manpower. We wanted to know what teams were out there so we knew who exactly we were cheering for.
But, even without knowing the details of the race, it was still exciting to see the athletes power through it.
Kudos to the team who started out second, but managed to reach first and even created a huge gap from the three other teams by the end of the race!
Weightlifting was held at the Marianas High School Gym. There were over 100 athletes from 15 of the participating countries who contested this sport.
Weightlifting was a sport that I was pretty curious to see. It was a good thing my friend was excited to attend, so we did, and we were able to catch the men’s 61kg (134 lbs.) session.
I didn’t know much about weightlifting. From what I was told and understood, athletes had to carry a certain weight, and if they managed to do so up to the minimum time limit, they got scored.
The competitors, athletes from Fiji, Guam, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea, were all incredible as we witnessed the amount of strength and endurance they possessed in this sport. Near the end, one of them managed to lift over, if I’m not mistaken, 136 kg (300 lbs.) worth and, my gosh, I was overjoyed for that athlete.
At the end of this session, athletes from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Guam earned gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively.
Congratulations to all four athletes for giving it their best!
Baseball was held at the Oleai Sports Complex – Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Baseball Field. There were over 50 athletes from 5 of the participating countries who contested this sport.
Baseball was a sport I was not all too thrilled to see, mainly because I had some personal embarrassing moments playing the sport during PE class in high school.
Little did I know that it was the sport that I ended up looking forward to watching the most throughout the mini-games.
The first baseball game was actually held on the 16th, which was NMI vs. Guam. By the time we arrived, it was pretty packed. Thankfully there were still some spots open at one of the bleachers. This eventually became our designated watch bleacher throughout the other baseball games because the live-streaming cameras barely panned this area, and we liked the view from that side.
At that time, I looked like a child attending my first day of kindergarten. I initially didn’t know which team was which, and I had to frequently ask questions about what was going on since I found myself thoroughly enjoying the game and wanted to be more knowledgeable about it.
By the end of the first game, I was hooked. The athletes from both teams excelled and showed amazing sportsmanship and skills.
It was a very close game and one that I was very grateful to have witnessed as my first baseball game.
I was able to watch all of the other games that team NMI participated in except the finals. My friends had work and I didn’t want to go by myself. We did manage to catch Guam v Palau, which was an intense game and I felt my heart racing through most of it as it was an experience where we couldn’t predict the outcome until the very last inning.
Congratulations to the NMI baseball team for coming out on top!
I think it's obvious to say that the games were a huge success and exceeded expectations, especially considering the time frame that the planning committee had to get everything done.
I definitely appreciated that the games were free to watch in person and online, and there was practically an unlimited number of people who could watch each game at a time.
I’m sure there were minor technical difficulties and setbacks, such as the weather, but other than that, to my knowledge, everything went pretty smoothly. There were no major injuries to either athletes or viewers, sports locations had safe viewing areas for the attendees, most of the people in the crowds were following procedures and were respectfully watching the games, and the games went according to schedule.
I was inspired by seeing the athletes’ determination as they were contesting. I think it’s safe to assume that many, if not all, of them, have trained long and hard during the months (or years) leading up to this event, and whether they won a medal or not, their hard work didn’t go unnoticed. I think just being at the games, representing their home country or territory, makes them all winners.
I definitely wished that all of the games were live-streamed, or if not, recorded and uploaded later for others to see. Also, I think it would be cool if instant replays would be available in future live streams. And, although the schedules are posted on the official NMPMG website, I think it would provide easier access to the information if they’re posted on social media at the very beginning of each day the sports that were being played, location, time, and the teams that were playing.
Will you be attending the next Pacific Mini Games in Palau in 2025?