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Editorial: 4th Too Long, Team Fiji Must Step Up In Apia

The hype is building for next July’s Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa. There was an air of optimism in the room when Team Fiji athletes from 26 associations assembled for
10 Dec 2018 10:12
Editorial: 4th Too Long, Team Fiji Must Step Up In Apia

The hype is building for next July’s Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.

There was an air of optimism in the room when Team Fiji athletes from 26 associations assembled for the first time in Suva on Saturday ahead of the games.

In truth, Team Fiji has given us little to be optimistic about over the past few games.

It is tempting to present Fiji as genuine contenders for the games, but we have routinely struggled on the big stage.

There have been very few success stories.

Fiji has finished in fourth place for three games in a row, with our medal count progressively decreasing since 2007.

The results have been poor, keeping in mind our better resources, sporting infrastructure and experienced athletes in comparison to our Pacific neighbours.

With Weightlifting Fiji expecting to win no medals in Apia, the work is cut out for us.

Fiji will participate in 26 events at the Apia Games. That’s a huge team, meaning expectations will be sky-high.

In 2015, Fiji won 33 gold, 45 silver and 37 bronze medals. In comparison, winners Papua New Guinea had 88 gold, 69 silver and 60 bronze medals.

Despite the resource constraints and lack of support, it will once again be the “minor” sports that spearhead our campaign in Apia.

Athletics was also a mainstay for us in 2015 in Port Moresby and the standard must be sustained and improved. Fiji also needs to regain its lost boxing and football glory. The bar needs to be set higher than what some have aimed for.

Chef de mission Patrick Bower, in line with the Games’ theme, ‘One in Spirit,’ stressed the importance of teamwork at Team Fiji’s first assembly.

Coaches and officials have also been urged to build a team culture around the central goal of achieving maximum results based on discipline, values and high performance.

Bower oversaw our team to the 2018 Commonwealth Games and is deemed to have done a good job keeping things in check.

He will lead a bigger team this time, with higher expectations and more resources expanded. The message must be clear from day one.

Fiji cannot simply go to Samoa and make up the numbers against (an expected) 23 other Pacific nations. We have the means to dominate the regional sporting space and that must be the overarching goal. It is also vital for sports federations to work closely with the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) and Fiji National Sports Commission.

Government allocated $24.1 million in funding to the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the 2018/19 National Budget.

A good portion of this was to promote the development of sport at all levels in Fiji, with the aim of improving our standards on the international stage.

The Apia Games is an important event the nation is participating in and all stakeholders should view it with seriousness.

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

 




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