SPORTS

Analysis: Stop ‘Baking Pie In The Sky’, Failing To Win Pacific Games In Six Decades Should Be Our Immediate Goal

It seems we are baking ‘pie in the sky’ over the years and ended being thoroughly humiliated by forgetting others exist and competing for the same prize with much more ideal preparations and planning.
16 Aug 2021 11:00
Analysis: Stop ‘Baking Pie In The Sky’, Failing To Win Pacific Games In Six Decades Should Be Our Immediate Goal
RUGBY OUR ONLY PARIS HOPE...From left: Tui Nawaka, Ratu Asaeli Driu, Meli Derenalagi and former national sevens forward Semisi Naevo at Nawaka Village, Nadi, on August 13, 2021. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

It is good to set goals but we need to be realistic about it.

We need to tackle what’s genuinely within our grasp before we can undertake or venture beyond the region into the world.

It seems we are baking ‘pie in the sky’ over the years and ended being thoroughly humiliated by forgetting others exist and competing for the same prize with much more ideal preparations and planning.

It’s beyond our comprehension therefore that we have lagging behind competitively in the region for so long that we are somehow getting used to it.

Would you believe that the last time we won the South Pacific Games (now the Pacific Games) was in 1963?

And that was 58 years ago in the first SPG held at Buckhurst Park (now ANZ Stadium) in Suva.

Second Best

Ever since our performance we’ve been drowned by the domination of New Caledonia who only came second best twice to Papua New Guinea.

This was during the 1991 SPG and the PG in 2015 both hosted in Port Moresby, PNG.

The last batch of Team Fiji players and officials arrived last Wednesday from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where Fiji upped the medal count compared to the 2016 Rio Olympics –thanks to rugby.

Back then, the Ben Ryan –coached sevens rugby team won gold.

And two weeks ago our Fijiana women’s rugby team won bronze as the Seremaia Tuwai –captained side defended the gold medal last month.

Team Fiji chef de mission Patrick Bower was spot on when he said the next four years would be crucial if we are to make a mark at 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

But at the moment the only sport that would make a mark in the region and the world is rugby.

The other sports competing at the Tokyo Olympics failed to qualify and earned their spots through universality places.

Re-think, Planning

The criteria would not benefit the athletes or the sports and more rethink and planning should be done to lift the profile and competitiveness.

Through rugby, we dominated the region in the four-yearly meet.

The writing was on the wall as our women beat Australia 12-10 in the gold medal playoff at Sir John Guise Stadium at the 2015 PG in Port Moresby.

Defeats of the Aussies at the Oceania 7s in Townsville in June and the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinal was forthcoming and it could surprise some.

But this is the way forward for other sports and that is to conquer the region before competing beyond.

Winning medals are the ultimate objective instead of settling for personal best in regional tournaments.

China Input

China has been the powerhouse in assisting the region reaching maximum potential by helping in funding state-of-the-art facilities.

At the 2019 Games in Samoa, they donated vehicles world sports equipment anf helped upgrade facilities they previously built.

And they continue to be a leading force in the construction of seven major sporting facilities for the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The venue will be the centrepiece of the first Pacific Games to be staged in the Solomon Islands.

An aquatics centre will also be constructed with a 50-metre competition pool, as well as a 25m training pool.

A six-court tennis centre, a track for athletics with a full-size football and rugby field, and a multi-purpose hall will be built.

The project also includes a five-a-side hockey field, a double-story food court and office space for the Games Organising Committee.

China is reportedly funding a further four development projects in the Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare said the Solomon Islands will have one of the best sporting and community facilities in the Pacific when the facilities are completed.

The Prime Minister insists the sustainable venues will be used for grassroots and high-performance sport, as well as community events.

Sogavare expressed hope the Pacific Games could help to strengthen the nation, following the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athletes can’t complain as they have some of the best facilities in the region.

Our athletes need to make a good use of it, make a mark before competing beyond.

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj



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