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Address at the iTatau from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rugby Team

September 5, 2019       State House, Suva

The Team Manager, Major Elia Rokowailoa;
The Coach of the RFMF Rugby Team, Mr. Saiasi Fuli;
The Team Captain, Mr. Sireli Ledua;
Players and Officials of the team;
The Good Reverend, Reverend Ilaitia Tuwere;
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 with much appreciation the good Reverend for the Inspirational and Divine impartation/direction and a prayer to strengthen our belief and dependence in the Almighty Lord as we gather here to farewell our Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rugby Team in the Traditional iTaukei protocol with the presentation of the iTatau ceremony.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as your President and Commander in Chief, I welcome you to the newly renovated State House Conservatory with great pleasure, gratitude and appreciation.

Once again and as usual, I am indeed honoured and it is such a pleasure to receive, on behalf of Government and the people of Fiji, our RFMF Rugby Team that will be departing our shores shortly to defend the International Defense Rugby Competition Title which you gallantly won at the end of the Competition last four years.

I welcome your visit to present your iTatau in the same manner and spirit that I have always welcomed all our National Teams that have come before you.

I congratulate all of you players for ‘making the cut’ and being selected into the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rugby Team to defend the Championship Title in Japan.

As a former player and now an avid follower of rugby, I am equally impressed with the team’s performance in the last International Defence Rugby Competition (IDRC), and I have every confident that you will do us proud again by successfully defending the Title.

At this juncture, I acknowledge the great effort and sacrifices you have all made so that you can be part of the team; it is a massive responsibility having to represent the country.

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 Coach, Colleagues, Families and Friends, and the expectant Fijian community here at home and our wider global diaspora.

As I have 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.

You are going as a team and not as individuals. You also go as sports ambassadors for our country. You now carry the hopes and reputation of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and our beloved nation Fiji. Please carry out your mission with dignity and honour.

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

On another note, 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 maintain your fitness and continue to manage a healthy lifestyle – by eating well and exercising daily. Our nation spends millions of dollars annually on 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 athletes of today can continue to represent our country as fit, well trained and motivated Fijians in years to come. 

At this juncture, I would like to commend and thank your Coach 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 your Sponsors for their invaluable support.

It is my honour to accept your iTatau today and to convey to you Fiji’s collective best wishes for a successful Tournament.

Be assured that our Prayers and thoughts are with you as you depart our shores.

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

Vinaka Vakalevu and Thank you.