For the second time this week a blessing ceremony has been held at Borron House to farewell a group of athletes. Yesterday the Fiji Women’s Volleyball team were given an official farewell by President George Konrote before their departure to the world cup qualifiers in Kazakhstan. History was made as it was the first time the volleyball team have sought an official blessing before departure. For some players it is their first time travelling and for many it will be their first time competing against the likes of Olympic champions China.
Over the next four years there are 17 international volleyball events coming to Fiji which will be crucial to the development of volleyball in Fiji and their aims to reach the Olympics in 2020. The president of the Fiji Volleyball Federation Nanise Vucago said in her address that with the international events and the top eight teams from around the world scheduled to come to Fiji “we have a lot to market. Not only for ourselves but for tourism and the economic participation of our country.”
Over the next four years Vucago wishes to implement improvement at the association level. This means aligning with professional standards and putting structures in place for selection processes. Also on the list is developing infrastructure such as sports facilities and accommodation for international teams and competitions in order for the 17 tournaments over the next four years to be successful and beneficial to tourism and economic development in Fiji.
Fiji have a tough pool with host nation Kazakhstan, Olympic champions China, Oceanian champions Australia, and Chinese Taipei all vying for the top two spots. Coach Basilio Kalokalodromu said that despite difficulties in their preparation he hopes the team will do well even though their preparation time was limited. The qualifiers start on the 20th of September running until the 24th of September.
Story and Photos by: Rosalie Willis