We suppose we don’t even need to tell you that it’s that time again, but starting tomorrow, the South Pacific will be rocking with the ninth playing of the Pacific Mini Games. Obviously, everyone in the world knows and anticipates these games, but just in case there are people that don’t (live under a rock much?) allow us to humor you with an explanation. The Pacific Mini Games, as shown by their breathtakingly gorgeous website, are a smaller version of the Pacific Games, which is, in turn, a smaller version of the Olympics. Basically, in the Russian nesting dolls of obscure sports, the Pacific Mini Games are the cute little baby all the way on the inside. This year’s games take place in Wallis and Futuna, because why the hell not? The sports featured are rugby, Taekwondo, weightlifting, volleyball (regular and beach styles), sailing, va’a (paddling a giant canoe), and the not-at-all-vaguely-named “athletics.”
Here are the countries you’ll want to watch when you check out the games on TV for the next 10 days. If they actually are on TV, that is. Ok, we just checked - they aren’t on TV. So watch for these countries during your illegal 4 am Internet streaming.
Background: Just because Kiribati only gained its independence 34 years ago, doesn’t mean that this nation, made up of 32 atolls, doesn’t have spunk. With a population roughly the size of Ohio State’s football stadium, they are looking to pack more of a punch than Woody Hayes.
Best Athlete Name: Kaitinano Mwemweata. Holds various “athletics” records and has an unreasonable amount of W’s in her last name.
Fun Fact: The police force has one patrol boat, so if two marine robberies are happening simultaneously, someone’s home free!
Background: Despite being one of the smallest nations in the Mini Games, the islanders from Niue are a chippy, rugby-playing people, even taking down the FORU Oceania Cup in 2008. However, they didn’t leave much room for other sports on the island, so they sort of have all their eggs in that basket.
Best Athlete Name: Michael Jackson. Yeah.
Fun Fact: The nation of Niue has free Wi-Fi throughout the entire country, completely eliminating the need for tables and chairs in Starbucks. (There is no Starbucks.)
The Federated States of Micronesia
Background: The Federated States of Micronesia is a very diverse nation: home to the Chuukese, the Pohnpeian, the Kosraean, and many other people who sound like fictional races from a sci-fi movie. The Federated States of Micronesia might have lost a few islands in their 1986 reassembly, but they are just as ready to compete with the big boys – Fiji and New Caledonia - as anyone.
Best Athlete Name: Sprinter brothers Jack and John Howard. Not what you expected, was it?
Fun Fact: The island of Yap uses Rai Stones – giant circular stones with holes in the middle - as a form of currency. Picking up a pint of milk has never been so awesome and incredibly inconvenient.
Wallis and Futuna
Background: Sounding like an Australian cartoon about a man and his loyal, talking goldfish pal, this year’s host nation isn’t really a nation at all. In fact, Wallis and Futuna is considered an “oversea collectivity of France.” Not only do you have awesome wine and gorgeous women, you also get picturesque island nations too? Real cool, France.
Best Athlete Name:KafoalogologofolauFalemaa. Seriously, guys? That’s even a little ridiculous for Dr. Seuss.
Fun Fact: They only have one bank on the island, which is essentially the opposite of Kiribati. Only one robbery at a time, please!
Photos by Sandra Mu / Getty Images Sport | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013