Opening of the 2013 Vodafone Fiji FACT Tournament - PM bainimarama


Commodore J. V. Bainimarama, CF(Mil), OSt.J, MSD, jssc, psc
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, Information, iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry and Lands and Mineral Resources

1430 Hours
Sat. 15th June, 2013
ANZ Stadium

President of the Fiji Football Association
Executive members of the Fiji Football Association
Vodafone representatives
Football players
Ladies and Gentlemen

BulaVinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

It’s great to be back at the brand-new ANZ Stadium after the big rugby match on Wednesday, where we saw the Flying Fijians’ win a convincing victory over the Classic All Blacks.

Now, just a few days later, we’re here to enjoy another ofFiji’s favourite sports– football – at the Fiji Football Association Cup Tournament.

For 23 years, the FA Cup has been a fixture on Fiji’s sporting calendar, because it brings together the best football teams from across the country in four days of intense competition.

Personally, I have always believed that football has been a great unifying force within our country. It attracts players and fans from all backgrounds and brings them together. It’s one of our major national sports, and is much loved by Fijians across the country.

In fact, football fans the world-over are known for their die-hard passion. I’m sure all gathered here today would agree and are die-hard fans themselves.

That’s why we need to raise the quality and standard of Fijian football to the level our nation deserves.

I remember the days when the standard of football was very good, one of the region’s best. That’s the standard we need to return to and improve on.

The current state of our national side is a constant cause of complaint and concern amongst fans: just look at all the letters to the editor written on the subject.

Football in Fiji has too often been let down by the administrators at the national level.

It’s a story that we’re all too familiar with in Fiji. Corruption, mismanagement and favouritism are barriers that our nation has faced in many different areas, including football.

My Government has committed itself to smashing these barriers across a broad front.

Transparency, accountability and good governance are absolutely critical to any organisation: and Fiji’s sporting bodies are no exception.

Soon, under our new constitution, public office holders will have to answer to an independent Accountability and Transparency Commission. The management of the Fiji Football Association and other sporting organisations should also be held to the same rigorous standard, answering not to a commission, but directly to the fans and players - to those whose confidence in the organisation has been shaken.

Fiji Football association officialsneed to do a better job in order to regain that confidence.

They need to use the group’s affiliation with FIFA to channel resources into the sport. They need to open management to new blood, with new ideas. They need to focus on professional development, at all levels. They need to understand that just because someone is a good administrator, it doesn’t make him a good coach. And they need to work to get Fiji’s ranking back up where it belongs.

To start with, there are a number of important regional playoffs lined-up over the next few years, and Fiji has to focus hard on those.

We also should set our sights on qualifying for a FIFA World Cup event. This is a very ambitious goal, but I believe it’s within our power. This would be a huge achievement for Fiji, and would certainly be a proud moment for all Fijians.

I thank the Fiji Football Association for persevering with the Fiji Fact which has become an annual event in our national sporting calendar. No doubt such tournaments help identify our up- coming national stars.

My government looks forward to working with the Fiji Football Association in not only improving our overall rating as a football nation but to also promote sports as means to keep all Fijians fit and healthy. As part of this initiative my government will developintegrated sporting facilities throughout Fiji, in particular in rural areas. This wonderful refurbished ANZ national stadium is part of our focus on improving sporting facilities to international standards. You are also aware that my Government has zero rated duty on sporting equipment and key sporting supplements.

But let’s return to the tournament today, the reason we are all gathered here. Fiji’s eight best football teams are set to square off.

Suva are the defending champions, and I know that there will be a lot of Suva fans in the stadium tonight, but looking at the line-up of teams, I think we’re in for another great tournament.

No doubt such a tournament cannot be successfully held without corporate sponsorship. I acknowledge Vodafone for sponsoring this tournament for the past 5 years.

Ladies and Gentlemen I wish you all an enjoyable Fiji FACT Tournament and may the best team win.

VinakaVakalevu. Thank you.