This CEO was accused of sleeping her way to the top, how she responded was amazing



Sarai Bareman was accused by some of sleeping her way to the top, but this young CEO of Samoa Football Federation has proven every sexist remark wrong, by excelling in her role as a leader in Samoa sporting circles, and personally praised by FIFA.

On the worst days she has been forced to lock herself in her office to hide the tears as she questions why she is doing what she does.

Fortunately for the beautiful game she is inspired by the dedication of her team, the smiles on the faces of people discovering football and the challenge the role poses.
“Being the CEO is a huge responsibility and the pressure to perform is immense,” Bareman said. “Nevertheless, when I witness the smile on a young girl’s face when she scores her first goal, and the cheers from the crowd as she jumps up and down and celebrates with her team, her mother screaming on the side line with pride – I love my job.
“When I hear the story of a school that we have been working with, reporting that thanks to our football programme there are more children attending school than ever before, this takes the passion I have for the game and builds on it 100 times over as I see the positive impact it has on children, schools and communities and even more – I love my job.”
Bareman’s high profile role comes with a huge amount of responsibility and while her position should be seen as a step forward for women in society, unfortunately she continues to be subjected to gender bias. “As rewarding as it has been, it has also been one of the most challenging experiences of my life,” she says. “More like a battle, and one that I am determined to win.”

Born in New Zealand, Bareman moved to Samoa in 2008 and after starting off as the FFS finance officer soon moved up the ladder, landing the role of CEO in 2011. “I was quite unprepared for the in-your-face opposition I encountered as a female, afakasi or half-caste in a male-dominated country like Samoa, and a heavily male-dominated sport like football.

“I have been called a stupid palagi woman who has no idea what I’m talking about, with no brains. I’ve had my ideas and suggestions ignored, or laughed at simply because I am a woman. I’ve had people tell me straight to my face that my place is in the kitchen and not the CEO’s office and I’ve had to deal with hurtful rumours stating the only reason I got my job is because I slept my way to the top.

“I’ve had male employees who don’t respect me or my authority and who deliberately disobey me or try to shame and embarrass me. I’ve dealt with older men who don’t like to be told what to do by a woman who is younger than them, who is a half-caste.

“I’ve been sitting in serious meetings with high level people and I’ve had to put up with men hitting on me and using sexual innuendos right in the open, while everyone laughs. I’ve had my butt grabbed, been subjected to wolf-whistles and sneered at by all types of males.

“But perhaps what is the hardest is other women, other females, have tried to undermine me by spreading nasty rumours, making up lies, refusing to support me or accept my leadership. Why? Because of jealousy, insecurity, fear? Who knows.”

Despite everything she has been through, Bareman remains strong and says all of it has had the opposite effect.

“I’m still here, I’m still working and I still love my job.

“I have this fire that is burning deep within me. It’s a fire that is burning for me to succeed, to make a difference, to fulfil my purpose and to lead the way. To lead the way for every woman I’ve seen beaten and abused, for every girl who is bullied and teased because of her gender, for every woman who has had to work twice as hard as any man and for every girl who has had her hopes and dreams trodden upon because she’s a female.

“When I’m told that I’m not capable, or I get disrespected because I’m a woman – it’s fuel to my fire.”

Bareman says this conference has been a chance for each and every participant to discuss and share their own experiences, as well as look at how sport can be used to improve people’s lives.

As a leader in sports herself, with 100 per cent certainty, she says this is true – especially when it comes to empowering women.

“Sport creates a platform for women to become leaders, to recognise their true potential, to socialise and participate on a level playing field with the respect of other women, and men alike. There is an expectation that as a woman, we will automatically fail and through sport we can change these perceptions and eliminate inequality.”

Bareman is a true leader who is making progress in breaking down barriers for women globally, but especially at home in Samoa.

“I refuse to shrink my goals and dreams because I am a female. I will keep using that burning fire within me to lead by example and create opportunities for women to be a role model for young girls and to show men that as a woman, I have earned respect and I am capable.”

She implored all those present, but especially the men, not to accept any action verbal or physical that degrades women.

“Ladies, if someone puts you down or treats you like a second class citizen, if you are abused or degraded or made to feel inadequate because you are a woman – use it. Build your fire and use it as fuel.”

Original Story:



Sefulu Ono Aso on Radio Australia


Manu Samoa rugby player combats violence against women

Posted 9 December 2013, 16:41 AEST

Top Samoan rugby player Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu says more men need to take a stand to stop violence against women.

He says the problem has reached epidemic proportions in Samoa. Mr Fuimaono-Sapolu has joined internet based Sixteen Days of Activism campaign (Sefulu Ono Aso), saying the issue is an embarrassment to Samoa.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Samoan rugby player Eliota Fuimaona-Sapolu

FUIMAONA-SAPOLU: Oh, I think violence against women, the sexual abuse, the violence, it’s ridiculous, it’s disgusting, there’s no excuse for. I’ve never heard people make excuses for it, but in Samoa, it’s very. very bad. We had Honourable Judge Vui come out, a judge in the Supreme Court of Samoa come out and say it’s an epidemic. Now, this is a man who has years and years experience in the courts and he’s seeing it daily, like you just read the Observer and you’ll see an article “Grandfather rapes granddaughter” Father rapes daughter, uncle rapes niece, like something everyday, they’re something everyday. And for the judge to come out and say it’s an epidemic, that’s unconscionable. I can’t even describe how bad that is, considering the fact that 90 per cent of the sexual abuse that goes on never gets reported. So he’s making a comment on the reported cases. This is beyond, it’s ridiculous.

The other excuse I’ve heard used a lot is well, this is a problem that’s very prevalent amongst all countries and it’s true, you see this everywhere, but that’s not an excuse not to address it and the problem is we always chuck that excuse out there and we never address this problem. So hopefully, this campaign can finally get us to look at this problem. It’s a huge problem in Samoan society and maybe we can’t address everything around the world, but we can definitely start somewhere and we can start with Samoa, and hopefully we can start making changes now.

HILL: You have suggested that there is a bit of male chauvinist, I won’t use the rest of the word, but it was something to do with bovine excrement that pervades Samoa and the Prime Minister came out and told Tau Samoa not to embarrass the country by losing ?? But you turned that whole statement completely around, didn’t you?

FUIMOANA-SAPOLU: Well, that’s the thing. We have very, an old, when I say a chauvinist mentality, it’s not so much so just men, it’s just that old Colonial way of thinking.

So, here we are having the Prime Minister and his statement, but it’s completely ignorant to media and the power of social media right now. So for him, Rugby and Rugby League, that can embarrass Samoa, but then I can be sitting in Alaska and I can read an article in the Observer, about what’s going on in Samoa. He has no idea the power of media and the internet at the moment and that’s the old way of thinking. These are old leaders, they’re old Colonial mindset and this is the problem. This is far more embarrassing. Everything that happens in Samoa is broadcast to the world, so it’s not now about you sending athletes and it’s up to this campaign army to they’re going to determine our reputation. No, no, no. Samoa is constantly under the microscope these days and that’s by the internet and everything, so what goes on in Samoa, you can’t hide it anymore. You can’t keep, oh, it’s OK, so long as they rape they’re and it’s quiet and noone knows about it, then we’re going to keep a good name. Times are changing and now we have to make these changes, because that is giving Samoa a bad name. Everything that’s happening in Samoa is giving Samoa a bad name.

HILL: Do you think the fact that you, a man, a Rugby player, a member of the National Rugby team speaking out like this is going to give men the guts to come out and take part in this campaign?

FUIMOANA-SAPOLU: I think you’ll see a lot of men have already stated their opposition to violence, sexual abuse, everything that we’re talking about. I should hope so, I should hope so, but if not then, we can’t rely and wait for celebrities to validate what we’re doing. We can’t wait for the actions to be legitimised by a few celebrities and then OK, I’m going to jump on board now. We have to see that this is wrong right now, this is wrong for anybody, not just if it’s done to famous person or if a famous person thinks this is bad. We have to do something now and everybody can play their part. There is this old Colonial way of thinking, but in all honesty, they’re old, so we have to start with our children, start with our youth, give them, empower them, especially the women. They can do anything they want to do. And the other thing is we’ve got to teach women, teach girls that they are inherently strong, they are strong and then we have to teach our boys. You need to change your perception of what strength is. It’s not force, it’s not violence, that’s not strength. So it’s small little things here we need to change.

I’ll give you an example. Like there used to be things like oh, you throw like a girl, little stupid statements like that and then the Mythbusters went in and did an experiment and yes, the boys throw more powerfully, but they proved that the girls are more accurate. So how was that bad? you know what I mean. So just little things that we can switch up, but we shouldn’t wait for celebrities to validate what we’re doing.

You know what embarrasses Samoa? The amount of violence daily against women!



Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu is an internationally acclaimed rugby player and vocal critic of injustice. According to him violence against women is pathetic, disgraceful and needs to be stopped. “FaaSamoa is a maternal culture, a culture based on alofa, caring for each other and feagaiga. The greatest leaders in Samoan history were women! Salamasina and Nafanua,” he said. “I am who I am because of the two strong, hardworking, loving women in my life. My mother, and my sister. If I can be half the woman these two are, then I will be a happy man. Yes, I said ‘if I can be half the WOMAN.”

However things have changed for Samoa, he says: “Now, however, too much male chauvinist bullshit pervades Samoa. The PM warns rugby league team should not to embarrass Samoa by losing? You know what embarrasses Samoa? The amount of violence daily against women! The amount of sexual abuse against women and children. The incest crimes.”

Eliota noted the recent incident in Samoa of the victim being victimized cultural governance in the village. “The incest crimes. The fact that a young girl is raped and then SHE is the one who is banned from the village for being raped!!!”

The internationally acclaimed sports figure referred to a statement by Hon. Justice Vui Clarence Nelson of the Supreme Court of Samoa, who said that sexual abuse against young girls by mature males is becoming an epidemic.

Eliota added: “AN EPIDEMIC! That means Samoa is sick! This shit is horrendous and needs to stop! Where did this fucking misogyny come from and why are our leaders not vocal about destroying it?!”

He urged the community to come together to support women. “We need to empower women. Education and self esteem,  self belief. Encourage women to speak out. Celebrate their achievements. Encourage their dreams.”

According to him, this can be a challenge given the type of media attention given to men: “Its hard in today’s society where everything celebrated and given media attention appears to be male dominated such as rugby league and others.”

He notes the sequence of events that need to occur for a solution to be effective. “Much like the slave shouldn’t wait for their masters to change their moral beliefs, women shouldn’t wait for men. We have to start in our households with each other. Teach our daughters NO ONE is allowed to touch our daughters without our daughters’ consent. Also, we must teach our sons that they’re not allowed to touch women, other people, without their consent! Teach our daughters everything, and I mean EVERYTHING and ANYTHING a man can do, they can too!”