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iTatau by Team Fiji to the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, Bahamas.

July 13, 2017       Boron House, Suva.

The Chef de Mission – Mr. Tom Tiko;

Coaches – Mr. Jone Delai, Mr. Antonio O’Connell;

Players and Officials;

Family and Friends; and

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste and a very good morning and warm greetings to you all.

I am always honoured to receive, on behalf of Government and the people of Fiji, all our national sporting teams as they present their iTatau before they embark overseas with the hope of writing our beloved Nation’s name into the annals of sports history.

I welcome you as the Head of State and in my capacity as Patron of the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC). I especially welcome you as the first National Team to visit Borron House which is going to serve as the State House for the duration of the State House being renovated. I welcome you in the same manner that I have done to all other National Teams that had come before you, with gratitude and appreciation.

Looking at this young team, I am reminded of the U21 Fiji Netball Team that presented their iTatau last month, and I have been informed of their excellent performance in their pool games and we are all aware that they have continued to show our true fighting spirit in all their games resulting in their qualification for a spot in the quarter finals.

I wish to emphasise, that Fiji has never shied away from competing and showing our true Fijian spirit and good sportsmanship in the world arena, be it sports or an endeavour that we have been entrusted with.

The Commonwealth Youth Games began in Edinburgh, Scotland way back on 10-14 August 2000 and is held every 4 years, the event being a mini Commonwealth Games designed for youths of 70 Commonwealth countries between the ages of 14 and 18 years.

I have been well informed that this tour to the Mini Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas is mainly for development purposes and for exposure to you our young athletes to international competitions. I share the same sentiments as the FASANOC officials and the National Federations, that this is a good opportunity to compete, but more importantly, compare the level of skills taught to you in your training and preparation and a good development ground and exposure for your newly elected officials.

I truly believe that we can only perfect our skills in sports or in any field of endeavour, by setting goals and working towards them through comparing and evaluating performance to measure our capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. It is only when we realise our weaknesses that will help strengthen our resolve and hopefully, improve our performance to conquer our opponents.

I am aware that the Team is going to participate in four sports which include athletics, rugby, swimming and tennis. I believe your coaches have chosen the best to represent our beloved Fiji and I respect their decisions as they are experts in their field. 

I have always reminded our National teams, that when we travel overseas to compete in such events we will realise that our opponents have all the resources at their disposal, but let us be equally reminded that we have an indomitable fighting spirit. And, we do not necessarily need money to develop this spirit.

So, I accept your iTatau today, on behalf of our beloved Nation, with our collective encouragement and best wishes for a successful tour to the Bahamas.

I am aware that some of you and your officials are departing our shores for the first time for international competitions; do not be disheartened as you have the support of all Fijians and our prayers and good wishes are with you. Enjoy the local scenery and the diverse cultural background of the Bahamas and bring back fond memories of the beautiful archipelago.

The Nation is confident that you have undertaken the necessary preparation. It is now time to put on your battle gear and perform to the best of your ability.

I wish to re-assure you that you are not alone in your efforts to stamp our mark in the international arena.

Fiji is also taking on bigger challenges in the leadership roles that we now take on in the global community. You are aware that we have chaired some of the largest gatherings of countries around the world, including the Group of 77 Plus China, and the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. We are still presiding over the UNGA.

Recently, we also co-chaired the United Nations Oceans Conference that took place in New York, led by our Prime Minister and his counter-part from Sweden. 

I wish to share with you The Honourable Prime Minister’s proud moment in his speech at the Launch of the Sustainable Development Goals Exhibition that we awed the world with our “BULA SPIRIT”. The traditional welcome ceremony that was held within the United Nations General Assembly was both historical and memorable and exemplifies the fact that we value our commitment and service to the world in all endeavours we are entrusted with. 

The Honourable Prime Minister will this year also chair the 23rd Session of the UN Convention on Climate Change or COP23.  The philosophies, the strategies, including the language that we convey in these important international gatherings accentuate our love of sport -  that we are not to drop the ball, or not to perform blind passes on major issues like climate change, which is already affecting humanity’s very existence. These philosophies also emphasise our genuine care of humanity and our world.

We are at the helm of calling on the world to work as a winning team. We are telling the world that a win in this journey is not an impossible dream, but it can only eventuate if we combine our efforts and work to our strengths.

On this occasion, I wish to congratulate you all for your selection into our National Team to the 2017 Commonwealth Youth games. I also commend the work of your coaches and officials in preparing you for this tournament.

I encourage you to be great ambassadors for Fiji both on and off the field, and fly our flag with pride.

On behalf of the Nation, I convey to you our collective best wishes.

May God Bless you all, your respective families, and our beloved Nation – Fiji.

Thank you.