SPORTS MINISTER SUPPORTS COCA COLA SPONSORSHIP FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL ATHLETICS

MAY 15, 2015. The Minister for Youth and Sports Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou has reiterated his appreciation and support of Coca Cola Amatil?s corporate sponsorship of the Coca Cola Games.?

The ?Minister elaborated that Coca Cola has provided assistance and resources to sustain the development of athletics in Fiji. He added that Fijian?athletes have benefitted immensely from the sponsorship of Coca Cola through the annual secondary schools competition and that other sporting bodies have also benefitted from this assistance.

?Most of the major sports in Fiji are beneficiaries of the Coca Cola Games. The Coca Cola Games plays a major role in producing the country?s sportsmen and women. All sports in the country through one way or another get their athletes from these annual games, mainly rugby, netball, basketball, soccer and all the major sports in the country?, the Minister said.??It is said that athletics is the mother of all sports, because all the games that are being played in the country, it?s breeding and nurturing grounds is athletics?.

Minister Tuitubou emphasized that it was also hard to quantify specifically for track and field the benefits of athletics but when comparing the impact athletics had on other sports it was clear to see that most of these sports people began their career through athletics .

He also clarified that there were also more elaborate factors contributing to the issue of non-communicable diseases in the country and that it was irresponsible to single out a major partner of sporting development in the country.

?With regards to the issue of Non-Communicable Diseases, it is uncalled for to state that Coca Cola is a major contributing factor to NCDs in the country. There are so many contributing factors to NCDs and it is entirely baseless to call out Coca Cola and tie it in with NCDs; as there are a lot of contributing factors to NCDs and that should be the issue that needs addressing, not the sponsorship.

?During the Coca Cola Games itself, the company provides $152,000 towards the successful running of the games on an annual basis and for the last 10 years, this sponsorship has exceeded $1.3m and this clearly indicates that the company has invested heavily in the sport of secondary school athletics,? he added.

Minister Tuitubou mentioned that for over 40 years the Coca-Cola games has championed physical activity and healthy active lifestyles for over 80 per cent of Fiji?s secondary school population.

?To a larger extent, through the Coca Cola sponsorship of the games, it advocates a healthier lifestyle for all interested parties,? said Mr Tuitubou.

Minister Tuitubou also thanked Coca Cola Amatil for supporting the development of sports in the country. ?Coca Cola has been at the forefront of major schools sports sponsorships like the Coca Cola Games and the Coke Zero Deans rugby competition but to put it in another perspective, the thought of Coca Cola contributing to Non-Communicable Diseases is irresponsible.?

?We need to find out the root causes of NCDs in the country and not necessarily single out Coca Cola as a contributing factor. The root causes of NCDs is what you put on your plate, and with regards to the issue of obesity, the onus is on the individual to live an active lifestyle in order to prevent that from happening, and this is the very thing that the Coca Cola Games is trying to encourage, a healthier lifestyle. ?Since Coke Zero has zero calories, it can be useful in managing energy balance. This is important in the management of body weight and therefore obesity and non-communicable diseases,? said Mr Tuitubou.

Sports Minister Tuitubou elaborated that this should not deter corporate bodies from coming on board to sponsor the annual secondary school athletics competition.

?If there are any corporate bodies that are willing to sponsor the same amount of money that Coca Cola Amatil is currently offering to the organisers, then they are most welcome to come forward but they should keep in mind the long term relationship that sponsoring the Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics competition means.?

?If the corporate body is dedicated to supporting the development of sporting talent in the country through the secondary schools athletics competition on a long term basis and on the same level of sponsorship being offered by Coca Cola Amatil, I believe the organisers will be open to discussion,? said the Hon. Minister.

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