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Itatau by the Fiji National 15s Pacific Nations Cup

July 11, 2019       State House, Suva

The Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Rugby Union –  Mr. John O’Connor,
The Good Reverend Raki Tigarea,

The Head Coach – Mr. John McKee,

The Team Manager – Mr. Willie Baleinabuli,

Players/Members of the Flying Fijians Team and Officials,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all!

At the outset, I wish to acknowledge and thank Reverend Raki Tigarea for sharing with us a few words of spiritual guidance and a prayer as we gather to farewell our “Flying Fijians” - National Rugby Team to the Pacific Nations Cup Title Competition.

It is always an honour and pleasure 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 World Champions.
On that note, I welcome the presentation of your itatau in the manner and spirit that I have welcomed all the National Teams that have come before you.

On behalf of my wife Sarote, the Government and all Fijians, it is such a pleasure to welcome you all and I wish to convey the Nation’s congratulations to each one of you for “making the cut” and being selected into the “Flying Fijian” National Rugby Team.  I am often reminded of the Biblical phrase: “Many are called but only a few are chosen” and you are the chosen ones of the many who vied for a spot to represent Fiji to the 2019 Pacific Nations Cup Title Competition and the forthcoming Rugby World Cup Championship in Japan later on this year.

To each and every one of our 42 players and 15 officials, I would like to, on behalf of our Rugby passionate and loving Nation, commend and congratulate you on being selected into our “Flying Fijians” Team this year – well done!

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 a Rugby mad Fijian community here at home together with the members of our wider global diaspora communities. I am informed that your game this weekend against the Maori All Blacks launches your buildup to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Being the ninth (9th) placed team in the world I encourage you to give it your all and continue to do yourselves, your families and your country proud with your performance. As I had reminded our young athletes and sports ambassadors to the Pacific Games last two (2) weeks - I want you to know that you are not alone in your efforts to do well in sports for yourselves, your families and our beloved nation – Please be assured that our good wishes and prayers are with you always.

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 great Ambassadors, on and off the field and always display good sportsmanship by accepting victory with humility and defeat graciously. At this juncture, I would like to commend and thank your Coaches and Team Officials who have worked equally hard in preparing you for the mammoth task ahead – thank you and vinaka vakalevu.

It would be remiss of me if I do not also acknowledge and thank your Families, Friends and Corporate Sponsors:  Fiji Airways, Vodafone, CJ Patel, Swire Shipping, Carpenters Motors, ISC, Fiji Water, Coca Cola, Paradise Beverages, Tappoo, BLK, Telecommunications Fiji Limited, Victoria Wines, Oceanic Communications, Fiji Sun, Communications Fiji Limited and Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

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 Government has been spending over $400million annually on NCD related ailments – much needed funds that could be directed into other sectors like Education and Sports to ensure that you our young athletes and sports men and women 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 Nation and have great pleasure in conveying to you our collective best wishes. By all means enjoy yourselves and have a very successful tour.

May God Bless us all, your respective families, and our beloved Nation - Fiji.

Vinaka Vakalevu and Thank you!