SEATTLE’S 2019 Samoan cricket season wrapped up in September, but organizers are already planning for next year. The United Samoan Organization (USO) also is laying the groundwork for a communitywide celebration of Samoan sport and culture in August 2021.
It has been nearly six years since the last Aso O Samoa, or Samoan Days, celebration in Seattle. USO is a small, volunteer organization that’s hard-pressed to scrape up the $6,000 in fees required every year to use Jefferson Park for its games. Organizing and raising money for a weeklong festival is an even more daunting task. To make it easier, the nonprofit set up a GoFundMe page for the first time, with a goal of $15,000.
The centerpiece of the Samoan Days event will be a Samoan cricket — or kirikiti — tournament, modeled on those that historically served to bring people together and forge alliances on the island nation. Teams from across the Northwest will participate. At least one team from New Zealand is considering the trip.
There will also be singing, dancing, cultural events — and food. Lots of food, says Roshina Wilson Kerisiano, a member of USO’s board.
“We want to share our Samoan culture,” she says. “I’m proud of my heritage and feel like we lose so much of it every single day. Cricket is a way for my kids to have something to hold on to.”
Kerisiano and her family were delighted with the 2019 season. The men’s team many of them play for, Tuasivi, won the championship. The women’s champion was Fetaiai Ma Uso.
The 2020 season will mark the 40th year that kirikiti has been played in Seattle, Kerisiano says. Several new teams recently joined the league. Games will begin May 2. Men’s and women’s teams will play at Jefferson Park almost every Saturday through August — and the public is welcome to watch.