THE FIFA World Cup Trophy tour to Fiji will hopefully inspire our footballers to go on and become recognised in the top flight of 'the beautiful game'.
In thanking the sponsors Coca-Cola and FIFA for making the "historic" event possible, the President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, added that this "unique opportunity" should be a turning point for Fiji football on the world stage.
"Today (yesterday) marks a significant milestone for Fiji in our quest to improve the quality of football, to make it competitive, entertaining and of course vastly improve our world ranking," Ratu Epeli said.
The original 18-carat solid gold FIFA World Cup Trophy and its entourage, including New Caledonian Christian Karembeu, who won the 1998 World Cup with France, were accorded a traditional welcome ceremony befitting a world champion side in the presence of Ratu Epeli at the Nadi International Airport by the chief and the villagers of Sabeto.
It was a humbling experience for Karembeu, the lone Pacific island footballer to win the FIFA World Cup, saying the "respect and humility" shown by the hosts was overwhelming.
"I am still trembling because it's very sensitive for me to come to you, to share what football gave to me," he said.
He played alongside world greats such as Zinadine Zidane and Didier Deschamps when they stunned the world with a 3-0 win over Brazil in the '98 cup final.
"They (Zidane and Deschamps) are not here, but I am here with the trophy and this opportunity given by Coca-Cola I want to share with you. So let's celebrate together and I need to tell you that I play football but I love rugby also."
Fans will be able to take photographs with the FIFA World Cup Trophy tomorrow at Churchill Park in Lautoka.