Skipper cries foul

The Fiji Volleyball team in New Caledonia. Picture: FT FILE

FIJI might be on its way to lose another gold medal prospect after the national Indoor Volleyball team has been told by Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) that they have been dropped from Team Fiji to the Apia, Samoa Pacific Games next month.

Speaking on behalf of the players, men’s team captain Epeli Nawalu said the players were most affected by the decision made.

“The team is heartbroken by the news that we have been disqualified because we feel like all our hard work has been put to waste.

“The team had high hopes of winning because in the course of four years we won the 2016 and 2018 Oceania Championships, 2018 was historic for us because we defeated New Zealand and there was really high hopes of getting our gold medal win in Samoa, it is a hurtful experience for the players who did not do anything wrong but has had to suffer the consequences,” said Nawalu.

Nawalu claimed that the team executives had taken in a cheque of $48,500 which was the outstanding balance and was then rejected by the FASANOC executives.

“After the media broke out the news last Monday, we were able to secure sponsorship to pay off our outstanding levy, it was taken to FASANOC the following day which was rejected by the executives. We are still trying to find out what is the valid reason for our cheque not to be accepted.

“In the last Pacific Games, the federation had paid just two days prior to the departure of the team but this year we were four weeks away and they still rejected the full amount we were able to give,” said Nawalu.

“Another meeting was held among the executives of FASANOC and Fiji Volleyball but we have been told that we are still not going to the Pacific Games,” he added.

Nawalu said the federation had a new change in the executive board that were running the finance and funding for the team.

“We just have a new executive board that had been running for just a year and a half now, and it is difficult for us to secure sponsors because of the debts we had in the past which were not able to be paid off by the previous executives running the federation.

“Preparing for the Pacific Games had not been easy for us and most of us athletes had just had to get out money from our own pockets to pay for training expenses and other logistics,” said Nawalu.

“Whatever the differences the executives have, I hope it can be put aside for the sake of the team and for Fiji, because we are sure we can get another medal for the country,” he added.

Nawalu has pleaded to FASANOC on behalf of the players that they would not give up because they felt they were treated unfairly and deserved a chance to go to Samoa.

“This is really saddening for us; we have made so many sacrifices from our families and sleepless nights just to be told we would not go without any valid reason. I am appealing to the public to get behind the players so we may be able to get our place back next month,” he said.

FASANOC chief executive officer Lorraine Mar said they would hold a press conference on Monday to give an update on Team Fijis preparation to the Pacific Games.

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