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iTatau by the Fiji Airways Sevens Men's and the Fijiana Teams to the First Leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series 2017-2018.

November 17, 2017       Boron House, Suva.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji National Rugby Union, Mr. John O’Connor;

Reverend Isireli Kacimaiwai;

The Coach of the Fiji Airways Sevens Team, Mr. Gareth Baber;

The Coach of the Fijiana Team, Mr. Iliesa Tanivula;

Mr. Mark Drown and Ms. Salote Ramabuke, Manager of the Men’s and Women’s Teams, respectively;

Players and Officials;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I wish to firstly thank Reverend Kacimaiwai for the inspirational spiritual message.

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to receive on behalf of Government and the people of Fiji, our Fiji Airways Men’s Team and the Fijiana Team to the first leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series for 2017-2018.

I am pleased to see some familiar faces, and even more pleased to see new faces. You undoubtedly bring new talent that can form a champion and winning to our men and women Sevens Rugby Teams.

Congratulations to all of you for being selected to represent our beloved nation.

I also offer my belated congratulations to the Men’s team for winning the Oceania Sevens Tournament last Saturday, and to the Fijiana for winning the Bronze medal.

Vinaka Vakalevu na gugu matua kei na yalo qaqa!

As we enter into the new series, we should show the world that we have a lot more to offer in the sport. Not only do we have fresh talent, but we also have a renewed team approach and a proud and enviable legacy to uphold as Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champions in the IRB Sevens code.

We can show the world that Fiji has always prided itself in facing new challenges and creating new opportunities. We do not shy away from responsibility and we remain relentlessly committed to doing our best as a team in everything that we do. You are not alone in your efforts to make a mark for yourselves, your families and your country.

In fact, we are preaching the same message of team work in Bonn, Germany, where our own Prime Minister and President of COP23, Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama with a dedicated team from Government, the private sector and civil society organisations, are proudly showing the world that despite being a Small Islands Developing State, Fiji is successfully taking a fresh approach in forming partnerships for action against the impact of climate change. 

We have also been using the language of rugby in our journey to Bonn. We have not dropped the ball in our collective effort to call on the world to take decisive action to address climate change. 

We have engaged in talanoa sessions to advocate, negotiate and spread the word that the time for action is here and now. But that we must act collectively as a team to save humanity and Planet Earth. 

Our Bula zone in Bonn, is attracting a lot of people not only because it is the most beautifully crafted zone celebrating our multicultural Fijian community, but mainly because we value fellowship and communal interacting that has become the core of partnership for action.

We certainly did not accomplish our journey to Bonn overnight. This started with a series of planning, creative strategies and sacrifices. In sports vocabulary, we have a workable and winning game plan.

I am confident you have also mapped out your game plans, and that your training in these past weeks have prepared you well to do battle on the field of play.  I have every confidence that you can achieve your goals if you work as a team.

I thank all your coaches, managers and officials for getting you ready physically, mentally, tactically, and I am sure, spiritually too.

Spiritual messages like that shared by Reverend Kacimaiwai this morning should help strengthen you spiritually.

I also acknowledge the support and sacrifices by your respective families.

Fijians all over the world excitedly look forward to another world seven series. And we all pray that you will be successful in your endeavours. Please play to the best of your abilities and be exemplary ambassadors for Fiji both on and off the field. Represent your country with passion and pride.  

I wish to extend my personal best wishes and the Nation’s wishes for a successful outing.

May God Bless you all and our beloved nation, Fiji.

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.