MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 6:00PM 13/04/13

CAPTION:?H.E President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau (left) ex-Solomon War ?soldier Filipe Matavesi (middle) and PM Rat Voreqe Bainimarama (right) at the 70th anniversary of ?commemoration?at Veitu War Memorial.

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1.?WAR VETERANS THANK GOVERNMENT FOR?ANNIVERSARY?COMMEMORATION -?The ?70th?anniversary commemoration of the 1STBattalion of the Royal Fiji Military Forces, also known as the?Ai Matai?departure for the Solomon Island for the war torn Solomon Islands at the Fiji War Memorial in Veiuto, has been greatly commended by our ex-servicemen.

2.?NETBALL FIJI GEARS UP FOR OVERSEAS TOURS -?Fiji is striving to build a more patriotic nation and sporting success had a major contribution towards this, said the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

3.?CONFERENCE ORGANISED TO ENHANCE THE SPORTING INDUSTRY -?More than 65 officials of various sporting organisations gathered at the FMF Gymnasium today to discuss the way forward for the sporting industry as stipulated in the National Sports Policy 2013.

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1.?WAR VETERANS THANK GOVERNMENT FOR ANNIVERSAY COMMEMORATION

The ?70th?anniversary commemoration of the 1ST?Battalion of the Royal Fiji Military Forces, also known as the?Ai Matai?departure for the Solomon Island for the war torn Solomon Islands at the Fiji War Memorial in Veiuto, has been greatly commended by our ex-servicemen.

President of the Returned Soldiers and Ex-servicemen?s Association of Fiji, Ratu Peni Volavola commended government?s willingness to organise a commemoration remembering the day 799 ?brave young men and 36 officers left Fiji for war in the Solomons in 1943.

?I wish to thank the Government for coming forward and willingly organise last Saturday?s 70th?anniversary commemoration of the fighting men of the Ai Matai, their selfless sacrifices, the sleepless nights, and challenging conditions they have had to put up with for the noble cause of peace,? Ratu Peni said.

Ninety one years old, Filipe Matavesi, one of the few surviving member of the Solomon Island campaign, said he was honoured to be part of the commemoration.

?Being one of the surviving ex-Solomon War veterans, I am honoured to be invited to attend the commemoration. I came all the way from the island of Qamea in Cakaudrove. On behalf of all the members of the?Ai Matai?(1st?Battalion Royal Fiji Military Forces), I am thankful to the Government for this,? Mr Matavesi said.

Ninety years old Vilikesa Balecala from Nasaibitu in Tailevu, who is also a Fijian war veteran in the Solomons, was also present at the commemoration at Veiuto.

?Most of my fellow ex-servicemen at the Solomon campaign have passed away. You can see that very few of us are still living today. I am indeed honoured to see how Government recognised the importance of our contribution to peace for the country,? Mr Balecala said.

His Excellency, the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama also took part in the Wreath Laying Ceremony.

The presence of the President and the Prime Minister at the commemoration signified Government?s recognition of the contribution of the?Ai Matai.

?This is the first time ever that this event has attracted the willing attention of Government, and has, no doubt, engendered and enhanced level of public awareness, which we think is important in terms of our history and awareness with our younger generation,? Ratu Peni said.

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2.?NETBALL FIJI GEARS UP FOR OVERSEAS TOURS

Fiji is striving to build a more patriotic nation and sporting success had a major contribution towards this, said the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

PM Bainimarama made these comments at a corporate and friends? cocktail fundraising event organised by the Fiji Netball Association in Suva on Friday.

The fundraising drive included pledges made by individuals and business houses to assist the national netball team and the U21 team prepare for major tours later this year.

The association needs $710,000 to send the two teams for their overseas engagements.

?We need to as a nation and as individuals get behind these young people as they again pursue their own dreams and the dreams of all Fijians for success on the international stage,? PM Bainimarama said.

?The nation salutes you and the sacrifices you have made like any other sportsperson to reach the heights that you have. We value your contribution to the game and the way you bind the country together.?

Netball Fiji president, Wainikiti Bogidrau said the funds would be used for buying the teams? training gear and the organisation of training camps.

??We need to prepare these teams firstly for their training camps locally, inclusive of special weekend camps. Secondly, it?s for hiring of expert technical officials. It is also for purchasing gear and uniforms,? Ms Bogidrau said.

?We have to fund the national side?s Pacific Netball Series in Apia, Samoa in June where we will go and defend our title. We are the netball champs of our region. And the big one is the World Youth Championship which will be held in Scotland in August. We need to send our U21 team there.?

The national team also has a tentative test match with Malawi, who is ranked 5th?in the world.

This match would be played in Sydney, Australia in October.

?The last one is a trial test series with South Africa and Wales to be hosted in Johannesburg and this will be in October,? Ms Bogidrau added.

The national netball team has been in the top 10 in the world for the past two decades.

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3.?CONFERENCE ORGANISED TO ENHANCE THE SPORTING INDUSTRY??

More than 65 officials of various sporting organisations gathered at the FMF Gymnasium today to discuss the way forward for the sporting industry as stipulated in the National Sports Policy 2013.

The inaugural conference, which was organised by the newly formed Fiji National Sports Commission (FNSC), took into account suggestions put forward by the national sporting organisations in order to improve the standards of sports in the country.

Minister for Youth and Sports Viliame Naupoto, while opening the one day conference, said it was also an opportunity to raise awareness about accomplishing an effective and vibrant sporting industry.

?Increasingly, more than ever sports has now become an industry and we must be strategic in our approach to participate effectively in this age of professionalism,? Mr Naupoto said.

?This is one of the main reasons why Government fully supports the establishment of the National Sports Commission and has provided $1million for this purpose.?

Mr Naupoto said the establishment of the FNSC is a beneficial tool in the enhancement of sports in all aspects.

?While government will be channelling funding through the Commission, all stakeholders must participate and play their part in resourcing their organisations.

?Investing in sports is another critical area which the FNSC is tasked to undertake and that is to promote physical activities in sports for all citizens with related activities as a Preventative Health Strategy,? Mr Naupoto added.

FNSC executive chairman, Peter Mazey said the commission?s principal mandate is to involve more people in physical activity and sports and to work with all national sporting organisations in achieving this through sports development at all levels.

?The commission will comprise of sports development units in the North in Labasa, in Lautoka and in Suva for the Central and Eastern Divisions.

?There will be 15-20 members of staff for sporting development who will be going out to the communities with members of the sporting organisations to encourage participation and identify our sporting talent,? Mr Mazey said.

He added that the goal is to attract more people, especially the youth, to participate and provide growth in a variety of sports.

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