Itatau for the Flying Fijians 15s Rugby Team to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan
September 2, 2019 State House, Suva
The Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Rugby Union, Mr. John O’Connor;
The Head Coach - Mr. John McKee;
The Good Reverend – Mr. Raki Tigarea;
The Team Manager - Mr. Willie Baleinabuli;
The Team Captain - Mr. Dominiko Waqaniburotu;
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 the good Reverend for sharing with us a few words of Divine/ Wisdom and direction and a prayer to inspire us all and strengthen further our belief and trust in Almighty God as we gather here to farewell our National 15s Flying Fijians Team to the Rugby World Cup Championship that will be held in Japan from September 20th to November 02nd 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 newly renovated 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 again as world Champions.
As your President/Head of State, I welcome you to the State House with great pleasure, gratitude and appreciation.
I welcome your visit to present your iTatau in the same manner and spirit that I have always welcomed all of our National Teams that had come before you.
At the outset, I would like to once again on behalf of Government and all Fijians congratulate our Flying Fijians Team which performed exceptionally well during the Pacific Cup Nations Competition and also for recently defeating the Ikale Tahi Tonga at Eden Park, New Zealand on Saturday.
The victory against the Tongans is certainly a good starting platform for your opening match with the Wallabies on September 21st – in two weeks’ time as you play them during your first Pool match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup Tournament.
Therefore, judging from your recent performances I have every confidence that you will undoubtedly perform equally well again, so as you present your traditional iTatau and prepare to depart our shores; be assured that as usual our prayers, support and good wishes go with you.
To each and every one of our 31 players and officials, I would like to, on behalf of our Rugby passionate and loving Nation, commend and congratulate you on being selected into our National 15s – Flying Fijians Team to the Rugby World Cup Championship in Japan – well done! “Many are called, but only a Few are Chosen – you are the “Chosen Ones” to do battle on the Rugby Field on behalf of our beloved nation – and all Fijians expect you to do your utmost best!.
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 and our wider global diaspora.
To the hardworking Head Coach, 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 on the mission, listen attentively to your coaches, play as a Team and look after one another – be good Ambassadors, on and off the field and always display good sportsmanship 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 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 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, great humility and wish you well and every success.
May Almighty God Continue to Be with You, guide, strengthen and Bless you as you leave our shores soon to fly the noble banner blue and to represent Fiji in the forthcoming Rugby World Cup Championship in Japan.
Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyavaad.
God bless always.