Nadi’s top tournament

IT may not be a national business forum but the Nadi International Volleyball Tournament has never failed to deliver a melting pot of players from every sector and industry of the country.

Initiated by Airports Fiji Limited, the inclusion of 179 teams at its latest annual fete two weeks ago marked the peak of its popularity, and proudly so as spikers, organisers and sponsors celebrated the tenth anniversary of this corporate calendar highlight.

The colourful fusion has also served as a rewarding contrast to its formative years, after AFL’s initial rejection from a hotels-only volleyball tournament a decade ago.

As AFLs manager Landside Operations and Customer Service, Joe Gray, explained, this hostility would become a defining moment, particularly after the efforts taken to even rally a team from the airport’s territorial departments.

“When I took up my posting with AFL in 2004, one of my KPIs was to foster goodwill relations and build networks among stakeholders,” he explained.

Coming from a hotel background, he was surprised with the cold, aloof environment and began working on the formation of a united airport worker’s team to be exposed to the friendlier feel of the tourism sector through the local inter-hotel competition.

“This was not accepted by the Fiji Hotel Workers executives then, since they felt that the inter-hotel competition was strictly for hotel workers only.”

The rejection only strengthened his resolve for a vision that had already taken form and demanded initiation.

“At the back of my mind, I was adamant to dethrone the inter-hotel tournament and make sure that they would never supersede our style, performance, prizes and level of our competition.

“I felt it was unfair for them to state that airport stakeholders did not fall into the tourism category so those comments even motivated me even more to create a tournament.”

Initial support from Coral Sun, ATS Pacific and generous donations from other corporate houses kicked off the first competition before the gradual, increasing support from more company bodies.

“For the first three years it was only restricted to airport workers only until 2008, when we opened it up due to the demand of being included to our brothers and sisters from the hotel industry.”

The rest, he says, was never ending.

“We felt that everyone is a stakeholder and we at the airport felt that we had achieved our objective and that it was time to branch out and spread our wings to foster goodwill relations amongst other commercial entities.”

He aptly noted the event’s growing success and the platform it has provided for participants to meet, compete, socialise, relinquish relationships and foster steady networks across the divisions of their varied sectors of employment.

Pulling off an explosive event each year has not been a mild fete and much of the tournament’s growth can be attributed to the reliable, efficient efforts of the organising team.

“The sacrifices they make and their commitment is something that can only be heavenly given and they do this without asking for any monetary reward or compensation.”

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