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Itatau from Team Fiji to the International Handball Federation (IHF) Trophy Oceania Championship, Noumea, New Caledonia (11-17 AUG, 2019)

August 8, 2019       State House, Suva

The Head of Delegation and Coach, Mr Lupeti Fihaki,

The Co-Coaches, Mr Emori Bakewa, Mrs Varanisese Karisitiana, and Mr. Wesele Suka,   Players and Officials,

Reverend Waisale Tikowale,

Members of the Media,

Ladies and gentlemen.

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

At the outset, I wish to acknowledge and thank the Good Reverend for sharing with us a few words of spiritual direction and a prayer as we gather to farewell our first ever Handball National team to the International Handball Federation (IHF) Trophy Oceania Championship which will be held in Noumea, New Caledonia during the period 11 to 17 August 2019.

It is always an honour and pleasure for my wife Sarote and I to welcome all of Fiji’s national sporting teams to the State House to present their traditional Fijian iTaukei, iTatau before they depart our shores with the hope of stamping our beloved Nation’s name into the annals of sports history as Champions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as your President/Head of State, I welcome you to the newly renovated Conservatory/Vakatunuloa of the State House with great pleasure, gratitude and appreciation.

I am indeed honoured to receive, on behalf of Government and the people of Fiji, the presentation of your itatau in the manner and spirit that I have always welcomed all the other National Teams that have come before you.

To each and every one of our twenty eight (28) players and six (6) officials, I would like to, on behalf of our beloved Nation, commend and congratulate you on being selected into our First Ever Handball National Team – well done!
I am reminded of the Divine/Biblical scripture text: “Many are called but only a few are chosen,” and you are the chosen ones, privileged to be pioneers of Handball in Fiji as newly introduced sport and as to be expected, growing in popularity with our young people.

I know and understand that being selected to represent our beloved nation in any international sporting competition has always been very challenging indeed because you will be expected to perform to the best of your abilities as expected of you by your Coaches, Colleagues, Families and Friends, and the Fijian community here at home and our wider global diaspora.

As I always reminded all our National Teams before they depart our shores - I want you to know that you are not alone in your efforts to do well in sports for yourselves, your families and our nation.

To the hardworking Team Officials, Coaching Staff, Manager and Administrators who had persevered to ensure that all details pertaining to the team’s welfare and performance are adequately addressed, we thank you! Vinaka Vakalevu!

At this juncture, ladies and gentlemen, I also consider it prudent that I acknowledge and commend the hardwork and support of your respective families, friends and last but not least – the invaluable support of your Sponsors. To all of you, I would like to say Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad and Thank you.

Please, allow me to give you some fatherly advice – To the players I would like to remind you to remain focussed, listen to your coaches, play as a Team and look after one another – be good Ambassadors, on and off the field and always display good sportswomanship by accepting victory with humility and defeat graciously.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of my other responsibility as our beloved Nation’s Chief Advocate/Champion in our national endeavours to combat the Present, Real and Clear Threat of the Prevalence of Non-Communicable Disease related ailments (Hypertension & Diabetes) within our Communities.

Please remain fit and well by maintaining a healthy lifestyle – by eating well and exercising daily, for to date our national Government has been spending over $400 millions annually in the treatment of NCD related ailments – much needed funds that could be directed into other sectors like Education and Sports to ensure that you our young athletes of today can continue to represent our country as fit, well trained and motivated Fijians in years to come.

I therefore, accept your itatau, on behalf of the Government and all Fijians, with appreciation and wish you well and every success.

May Almighty God Bless you as you leave our shores soon to represent Fiji in the forthcoming International Handball Federation (IHF) Trophy Oceania Championship.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyavaad.

God bless always.