Punjas and Sons Managing Director and Official Sponsor, Mr Rajesh Punja,
President of Tennis Fiji, Mr. Rajiv Singh,
Oceania Tennis Federation Executive, Mr Richard Breen,
International Tennis Referee, Mr Tony Glenthworth,
Former International Tennis Federation, Tennis Development Officer of the Pacific, Mr Dan O’Connell,
Representatives of the Fiji Sports Commission,
Team Officials and Players,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning to you all.
It is a pleasure to be here today as Chief Guest at the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Pacific Nations Cup Tennis Tournament.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to the executives from Oceania Tennis Federation, International Tennis Federation and Tennis Australia – your presence signifies your commitment towards the sport of tennis and the overall celebration of sportsmanship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a young country with approximately 62% percent of the population below the age of 35 -- “Empowering youth to be agents of change and promoting sports for development” remains a priority for the Fijian Government.
Sports has played a central role in building social cohesion and has supported improvements in health and well-being and generated employment opportunities for many Fijians. Remittance inflows from Fijian sports personnel overseas have been a good source of foreign exchange earnings and income support for many families.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There remains a huge potential to harness our sporting capabilities and transform sports into a major income-generating sector.
In line with the National Development Plan, the Fijian Government has strengthened the professional development of sports and built new state-of-the-art facilities –  along with infrastructural provision, the development of qualified sports trainers and coaches remains critical.
Some lauded names of sports officials like Waisale Serevi, James Bolabiu, Ilivasi Tabua and Vilimaina Davu – act as a testimony to the development of professionals in sports indicating the opportunities for employment generation -- positioning Fiji as a source of world-class athletes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We often fail to notice our escalating levels of NCDs and obesity.  Therefore, an increased participation in sports by all Fijians will contribute to reducing our growing levels of NCDs and obesity.

Coming back to today’s event, I am told, the Davis Cup and Fed Cup is organised by the International Tennis Federation, worldwide in different groups for Class B Members.
Similarly, in 2018, the International Tennis Federation introduced the Nations Cup for Class C Members to the World by supporting the inaugural event in Lautoka in collaboration with Oceania Tennis Federation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Tennis Fiji as the host federation partnered with the Fiji National Sports Commission and Punjas and Sons to deliver an incredibly successful event. Through this, nominated nations will have the opportunity to host for two years’ based on previous exceptional results – and as a proud Fijian, I am delighted to say that Fiji will be hosting this event for the third year, till this Saturday at the Regional Tennis Centre in Nadovu, Lautoka.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the recent past, Fiji has hosted the Fiji International tournament played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course, the Investec Super Rugby and the 2018 Fiji Interhash – indicating Fiji’s capabilities of hosting international events.
As the event continues to expand to other regions of the world with Africa the next continent to join. The Pacific Nations Cup, remains the highlight for 2022 -- as an annual tennis competition for the Pacific.
Eight nations will participate this year from the likes of Samoa, Tahiti, Vanuatu, Northern Marianas, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Fiji with forty-four players in total participating -- majority of which have recently returned from Saipan having competed at the 2022 Pacific Mini Games.
This is encouraging indeed, to witness many of our Junior athlete’s transition to elite senior tennis competitions in Fiji and abroad – this is an opportunity for athletes to thrive not only in our local and regional platforms, but one-day chase their dreams of becoming a full time professional player on the circuit.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The continual cordial relationship between the Fijian Government and the Fiji National Sports Commission has enabled Tennis Fiji and Oceania Tennis Federation to make today’s event possible – such a synergy is perfect for showcasing the best of what tennis has to offer from our region.
It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the growth of tennis in Fiji and the recent events held on our beautiful shores including the Regional Championships, International Junior World Ranking tournaments – of which two concluded over the past fortnight.
This is an exceptional reflection of our nation’s ability to host a sporting event since its inception – an event supported by major sponsors Punjas and Sons, without your contribution this event would not have been possible for the third consecutive year.
Coming back to today’s event, I thank the Tennis Fiji team for their tireless efforts and hard work which has produced fantastic results over the years. The facility we set foot on today is an incredible asset for our players and I would like to acknowledge Fiji National Sports Commission for their efforts in maintaining the Regional Training Centre."
Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.