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Rugby League, netball get Oz Support

Petero Civoniceva and Fiji National Rugby League’s dream to field a pro­fessional team in the New South Wales Rugby League’s premier competition received a huge boost yesterday following the Australian
19 Jan 2019 11:01
Rugby League, netball get Oz Support
Former Vodafone Fijian Bati captain and NRL legend Petero Civoniceva (left) with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Albert Park, Suva on January 18, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

Petero Civoniceva and Fiji National Rugby League’s dream to field a pro­fessional team in the New South Wales Rugby League’s premier competition received a huge boost yesterday following the Australian Government’s announce­ment of landmark support for rugby league in the Pacific.

And Fiji Netball will also get assistance from Netball Australia in preparation for the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England on July12-21.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Mor­rison, made the announcement at Albert Park, Suva yesterday pledging financial sup­port for the current bid by a team from Fiji to compete in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW in 2020; as well as supporting NRL pre-season trial matches in the Pacific, in Febru­ary 2020, 2021 and 2022.

This is part of the Australia-Pacific sport linkages programme.

He said it has been a dream of many for Fiji to be part of the Intrust Super Premiership, now, it was no longer a dream.

Morrison highlighted how sports was a great way of bringing the communities and countries together and how Australia was very supportive towards sports in the Pa­cific and particularly Fiji.

Morrison spoke highly of Fijian legends who played for the Kangaroos like Lote Tu­qiri, Petero Civoniceva and few others show­casing their talents and passion for sports.

“Australia wants to see more of the Voda­fone Fijian Bati and we love the team that showcases such great sporting talents,” he said.

He also announced there would be a pre-season NRL matches played in the Pacific starting with Papua New Guinea in 2020 and in Fiji the following year.

In celebrating women in sports, Morri­son said the Australian government would be working with Netball Australia so they could help the Fiji Netball team for the world cup this year.

“This is about sharing our common love in sports,” he said.

Minister for Employment, Productiv­ity, Industrial Relations, Youth and Sports Parveen Bala said the visit by Morrison car­ries significant importance for Fiji in the field of sports and other areas of mutual interest.

“Our relationship with Australia has been strong and long standing when it comes to sports.

“This has ranged across several sports in­cluding some notable matches and exchang­es between our two sporting loving coun­tries in rugby union, football and cricket over the years.”

He said it was no surprise that so many of our players dream towards playing rugby and rugby league in Australia.

“The gentle giant Petero Civoniceva is an example of Fiji’s product that represented Australia and may I add, strengthened the Australian rugby league team.”

Bala also presented a Fiji Bati jersey to the Morrison.

NSWRL general manager of Football Bar­rie-Jon Mather said the decision was a great vote of confidence in the game’s future in the Pacific and their hopes to play second tier rugby league.

“The announcement of support by the Aus­tralian Government substantially assists the bid team, led by Petero Civoniceva, and puts them a step closer to realising their dream of having a Fijian team play in our elite competition,” Mather said.

Australia’s Minister for Sport Bridget Mc­Kenzie said the announcement recognises the power of sport to bring people and com­munities together to build stronger ties.

“Rugby League is incredibly popular in the Pacific Islands and if we can translate that into greater grassroots participation, we know that it will lead to more active and healthier participants,” McKenzie said.

-Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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