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PM: Help Sport To Help Develop

Fiji exemplifies the importance of sports diplomacy, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told a major meeting in Brussels yesterday. Mr Bainimarama – who is also Fiji Rugby Union president – was
07 Dec 2016 10:53
PM: Help Sport  To Help  Develop

Fiji exemplifies the importance of sports diplomacy, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told a major meeting in Brussels yesterday.

Mr Bainimarama – who is also Fiji Rugby Union president – was among speakers at the opening session of the European Commission seminar on Sport Diplomacy.

He shared the Fijian story of how Fiji was making its mark on the international sporting arena and how Fijian players in overseas teams have been instrumental to their teams.

“The potential to enhance the importance of sport in the conduct of international affairs has always been there, such as the ping pong diplomacy that marked the thawing of relations between the US and China in the early 1970s,” he told representatives at the seminar.

“But there are a great number of other opportunities to be explored, especially in funding the development of sport at the grass roots level in developing countries as a means of raising overall living standards.

“Many of the millions of people around the world who have witnessed our sporting prowess may not realise a startling paradox.

“We don’t have the economic strength of the great powers. We don’t have their military strength and the ability to project raw power. But of all the nations in the world, I am convinced that

we do more than all of them – proportional to our size and population – to project soft power on the sporting field.

“Fiji truly punches above its weight in the world of sport. And we have been able to use the natural skills of our people to capture the imaginations of sporting lovers the world over. And establish Fiji as a force to be reckoned with, not only on the sporting field but as a nation.”

He highlighted Government’s initiative on the sporting front at home.

“In many parts of Fiji, we have communities in which sporting facilities consist of an uneven field, two goal posts and a ball. My Government is making it a priority to upgrade sporting facilities, especially in rural communities, whether it is the provision of gym equipment or building a basketball court,” the PM said.

“And can I suggest to you all that assisting us to do this is a valuable development tool in itself.

“Because it not only encourages more community participation in sport but has valuable spin-offs in raising community health standards and in the education of our children.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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