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HON. LAISENIA TUITUBOU
Minister for Youth and Sports

Keynote speaker at the Team Fiji Dinner (Pacific Mini Games) at Holiday Inn on 19 December 2017 at 6.30 p.m.

• President of FASANOC Mr. Joe Rodan Senior
• Board members of FASANOC
• Senior Government Officials
• The Respective guests of honor
• Respective representatives of our sporting bodies
• Athletes and representatives
• Invited Guests
• Ladies and Gentlemen
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Bula vinaka, Namaste and Salam Aleikum and a very good evening to you all.

I am delighted to be here with the team again as it has been a wonderful experience being part of Team Fiji throughout the Pacific Mini Games 2017 hosted in Vanuatu. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our hosts led by the organising committee and Government of Vanuatu with support from the Pacific Games Council and the Oceania sports federations.

Welcome home our champions and our grand ambassadors. You all have made your country proud and every single one of you is a champion.

On behalf of the Government and the Fijian people, I would like to thank you for what you have done to inspire us.

Yes, there were moments where the calls or results did not go in our favour but we should not forget that our participation means more to us than winning.

On a similar note, I would like to thank all your coaches, your managers led by the Chef de Mission and FASANOC Fiji for looking after the wellbeing of our athletes. It was certainly a full-time job.

Watching our young athletes compete with some of the best in the Pacific and being able to provide stiff competition is in itself is a true testament to the vision we have in promoting all sports in Fiji.

It was an honour for me personally to witness our young weight lifters’ accomplishments during the event. Our own Eileen Cikamatana being named the best Young female athlete at the Pacific Mini Games is a testament to the ongoing development of the sport and our athletes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, her achievement is just one of the many highlights that our team achieved during the Games. We finished 3rd on the medal tally with 23 gold, 27 silver and 23 bronze medal. We were competitive in all events.

The big Fijian family, the 850,000 of us, we embrace you, we applaud you, we have been inspired by you and we are so proud of you.

Now our performance is not measured by the final medal tally. Some of the most memorable moments were events where our athletes achieved their personal bests, showed incredible grace and humility under the glare of spotlight, often in the face of disappointment. These moments are an indelible part of our national life.

I have said before that I am proud of our Government’s record of supporting our athletes and preparing you for the Pacific Mini Games.

We are absolutely committed to supporting Fijian sport, both our participants at the grassroots level, the young boys and girls starting out, and elite athletes like yourselves.

I want to acknowledge the support rendered by all the stakeholders in assisting team Fiji’s participation to the Pacific Mini Games. We must now look to the future and start our preparations for the 2019 Pacific Games.

Finally, to all of you, our athletes, I know you felt in your heart the support of the whole nation as we celebrated your success and as we watched you write the latest chapter of Pacific Mini Games history.

In just over 4 months, we will get to do it all over again with the same, if not greater, passion and the same commitment with the Commonwealth Games coming up in April 2018.

On behalf of the Fijian Government and the people of Fiji, congratulations and thank you. Thank you to the whole team and your families.

As we approach the festive season, I hope that you will all have a well-deserved break. With that and the Commonwealth Games so close, you cannot afford a long break nor to break your discipline – indeed, you will need more discipline than normal to turn down the temptation of sumptuous food with your families. The price of not doing so will be high!

I wish you all a happy and safe – and disciplined – festive season and all success in what will be an exciting 2018.

Welcome home and well done!

Vinaka, Dhanyabad, Shokran and thank you all.