THE national under-18 hockey team now has more reasons to smile before departing for Vanuatu.
The team has received a $20,000 donation from the Fiji National Sports Commission as they prepare to participate in Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Oceania Qualifiers that will be held in Port Vila.
Both the boys and girls teams will compete in the event but the girls have a stronger chance of qualifying for the games.
The new development comes after Samoa and Australia pulled out of the tournament, meaning the girls will have to beat either New Zealand or Vanuatu to qualify.
Team coach Tai Smith said her players were ready to put their bodies on the line for the country.
"This (donation) is a big boost for not only us but for the youths of the country," she said.
"Our players have given up their time for almost half of the year to prepare for this event because it's for the country."
Commission chairman Peter Mazey said they were devoted to help the youths of the country when it comes to sports.
"The funding from the commission is all about developing the youths of the country so that they can become champions one day," he said.
"This is the first major funding for the year and it fits with everything that we have planned for the year."
He said their aim this year was to inject more funds into sports and teams or players that would be competing in qualifiers or ranking events.
"Anybody going overseas should have a really good reason to ask for funding and that is if they are either going to a qualifying event or where their ranking will improve."