Power of sports has helped us to move on after Cyclone Winston
In 2000, the late Nelson Mandela described sports’ positive impact best at the Laureus World Sports Awards. He said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” We see that happening right here. In February this year, Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated many homes and schools. Lives were lost and infrastructure destroyed. The total damage was estimated at more than $2 million. One of the country’s top schools, Queen Victoria School, was destroyed, forcing the relocation of its students to other schools while the Indonesia Defence Force rebuild the school. The psychological trauma from that disaster would have been enough to seriously put off the QVS students from their focus on their academic studies and sports. But it seems to have had little effect on the students. Through the power of sport, in this case, rugby, they have come together from the different schools they are attending, to train at one venue, at Bidesi Park, in Suva, for the business end of the Coke Zero Deans Trophy competition. Their achievement so far has been amazing. They have defied the odds. They have sacrificed. They have tenaciously hung on to their never-say-die school tradition in any battle, particularly on the sports field. The results speak for themselves. All their age-group teams bar the Under-19 are in the finals on Saturday at the ANZ Stadium in Suva. That’s an incredible feat achieved through the uniting power of rugby. Another example is the indomitable spirit of the primary schools participating in the Rewa Galaxy Kaji Rugby competition and the Punjas-Digicel Primary School Netball Championships in Suva this week. The schools have come from all over the country including areas that were hit hard by Cyclone Winston. They have come to Suva with big support groups which included their parents, families, teachers and the communities. In cricket, Suva, Nausori and Navua primary schools will be playing the finals at the Veiuto grounds in Suva on Saturday.
This is a great sporting week. In addition to the school’s sports, Nadroga, rugby winner of the Skipper Cup, beating Suva 17-12, last Saturday, prepare for their first Farebrother-Sullivan Challenge against Suva at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka. This Saturday will also be the round two of the Vodafone Rugby Trophy competition.
To cap off the week, all eyes are on the Fiji men’s sevens team in the Rio Olympics. The whole nation is banking on Ben Ryan and his men to bring home the gold medal.
Fijians have risen from the rubbles left behind by Cyclone Winston, put aside their differences and united to back our Olympians. If we win a medal, even gold, we will go through a national euphoria, celebrating and hoisting high the nobel banner blue. In our quiet moments of contemplation as we wait anxiously for our opening match against Brazil, there is little or no thought of post-Winston. One of the empowering influences of sport is the will to overcome our challenges. This sporting week is evidence that Cyclone Winston is now history and we have moved on as a nation.