iTatau by the Fiji National Schools Swimming Team to the 2017 Pacific School Games in Australia.
November 29, 2017 Boron House, Suva.
The President of the Fiji National School Swimming Association, Mr Patrick Bower;
The Team Coach, Mrs. Jennifer Liew;
Reverend James Bhagwan;
Members of the Fiji National Schools Swim Team;
Members of the Media; and
Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys
Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
I wish to firstly thank Reverend Bhagwan for the inspirational spiritual message shared with our young swimmers this morning.
I am honoured to receive on behalf of Government and the people of Fiji, our swimming representatives to the 2017 Pacific School Games in Adelaide, Australia.
Congratulations on being selected to represent our beloved nation.
I also thank you and your respective families for taking a keen interest in swimming.
I say this because drowning has always been an alarming cause of death in Fiji, each year. Our latest victims being two children just a few days ago and two adults last night. A third adult is still missing. May all their souls rest in peace!
Despite the fact that Fiji is surrounded by water, not many parents and guardians make the effort to see that their children are taught the basics of swimming and water safety. I therefore commend all of you here today for choosing a life-saving activity and sport. Swimming will not only save your lives but it can also take you places, as you are about to do so now!
Just ask swimmers like Matelita Buadromo, Cheyenne Rova and Herbert Rabua who recently represented Fiji at the World Championship in Budapest. I am told they are Fiji’s top swimmers. And they started swimming whilst in school, just like you!
I also applaud the Fiji National Schools Swimming Association and other agencies for organizing regular swimming and water safety events.
I appreciate and commend the plans to have swimming introduced in secondary schools as an elective subject. I look forward to seeing swimming being taught as a regular subject throughout all the schools and especially from the primary school level. This could help save more lives, improve the health status of our children and reduce the costs associated with drowning.
I am also aware of the need to have the appropriate facilities in schools for swimming to be a regular subject. But this challenge has certainly not deterred all of you who are here today nor the Schools Swimming Association in promoting swimming and grooming more young people like you to be highly competent in the water.
I am advised that at the tournament in Adelaide, you will be competing against swimmers from Australia and other countries in both the individual and relay events. I believe your coaches and team officials have prepared you well and you have thoroughly followed your training programme.
I have every confidence that you will do well.
Fijian sports teams have always given our opponents a good run for their money, because we are very high on team spirit emanating from our reverence of God Almighty.
Speaking of which, I wish to congratulate the Fiji Bati Team for their gallant efforts at this year’s Rugby League World Cup. They have set a new benchmark in terms of publicly declaring that their performances were based on a solid spiritual foundation for each team member, and the team as a whole. And this translated very well on the field of play.
Our Flying Fijians Rugby Union Team also brought smiles to all of us over the weekend when they completed their Northern Tour, and ended up winning five out of eight international games this season.
As we speak, our National Sevens Teams to the World Sevens Series and a contingent of almost 200 athletes are preparing to compete this weekend in Dubai and at the Pacific Mini Games Vanuatu, respectively.
We are grateful that despite being a Small Island Developing State, we are developing the ability to be competitive at the highest level - be it in sport or any other endeavour.
We are now championing the global efforts to address climate change. Our Prime Minister, Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama with a dedicated team from Government, the private sector and civil society organisations, successfully completed negotiations that if implemented to the full, will help save humanity and Planet Earth.
And we thank God Almighty for our ability to lead the world in this effort. This is a historic occasion for Fiji.
Members of the Fiji School Swim Team, I am confident that you too will create your own history as you improve your swimming skills and competitiveness. And we must always acknowledge God’s providence and the support and sacrifices of your respective families.
I wish to remind you all that as national representatives, you have a duty to perform to the best of your abilities and to be good ambassadors for Fiji both in and out of the pool. Fly the Fijian flag with passion and pride.
I once again extend my personal best wishes and the Nation’s wishes for a successful outing. Our prayers are with you all.
May God bless you all and our beloved nation, Fiji.
Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.