HON PM BAINIMARAMA SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF SAUNAKA GYM AND HANDOVER OF NEW GYM EQUIPMENT

Na Momo Na Taukei Naua,
Na Momo Na Taukei Navo,
Sa Tiko saka Na Turaga Talatala,

Bula vinaka and a good afternoon to you all.

It is my pleasure to be here in Saunaka Village to officially commission this newly renovated gym and hand over this new gym equipment.

Just this past weekend, I had the honour of presenting the new Team Fiji Olympics uniforms and announcing the names of the men and women who will be representing Fiji on our Sevens sides at the Rio Olympics. It was an impressive spectacle seeing the many talented athletes that will be representing our country.

In less than a month, those men and women will be competing in the most prestigious athletic competition in the world. But many began their athletic careers at gyms and recreational facilities much like the one being opened here today.

Government’s job is to create an environment that gives those with ambition and talent the conditions they need to succeed. I’ve just been to Cuvu in Nadroga this morning where I opened the Nadroga-Navosa Provincial Technical College Campus, one of the largest technical colleges in Fiji. This campus will provide youths with technical training and short term courses so that they have more employment opportunities. And that is what this new gym and equipment represent. More opportunities. They provide a modern, safe recreational space that will encourage healthy lifestyles, cultivate athletic talent and build upon Saunaka Village’s already impressive athletic legacy.

The facility here has been revamped at a cost of $38,970, and another $12,350 has been provided for the purchase of the new equipment. Worthy investments in the health and well-being of the 1,200 Fijians who call Saunaka home. And another big step in bringing the services and infrastructure in our rural areas up to the same standard that can be found in our urban centres.

Fitness and athletic competition are a big part of Fijian national life. We can’t all be Olympians, but we can all appreciate and participate in physical activity. And we all should.

In Fiji, we have an unacceptably high rate of Non-communicable diseases. Diabetes and obesity, in particular, ravage many of our communities. These conditions may not sound as scary as some other, more well-known diseases – but make no mistake, they are two of the biggest killers in the Pacific. And what makes these deaths all the more tragic, it how easily they can be prevented.

If you make changes in your lifestyle, eat healthier foods and exercise in gyms like the one opening today, you can give yourself years more of precious time with the ones you love. Encourage them to work out and invite them to participate in either athletic competition or maintain fitness. You could very well be saving their life.

The benefits of sport don’t stop at healthier living. For our young people, sport is a great teaching tool in developing teamwork skills, perseverance, personal responsibility, fair play, tactical thinking, and problem solving. Sports, and team environments, give your young people a sense of purpose and belonging, and those are benefits that you really cannot put a price on.

Sport is also a tremendous unifier that brings us together, regardless of the ways we differ from one another. Because on the field, it is only your preparation, your dedication and your ability to work with others that determine your success.

Sport and exercise are also important parts of living a healthy life. And I hope to see Fijians – from every age – using this equipment and facility to get out, get moving and get active. With this new gym at your disposal, you all have a chance to make a commitment to yourselves to live a healthier life. To make fitness a priority, and enjoy the enormous benefits of higher energy levels and improved health that physical activity can bring.

I’m excited for you all to make use of this new equipment, and look forward to seeing athletes from Saunaka continue to excel.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.