Think global, act local

TIMES: Congratulations on your recent appointment. Can you share with us a bit more about this new role and the expectations that come with it?

GUKISUVA: The role is the commercial manager, newly created in Fiji FA under FIFA to assist the association with its commercial arrangement and look at new opportunities for Fiji FA.

We feel there’s huge untapped potential in the football fraternity in Fiji. With the right strategy and structure, we can grow the profile of football and reinforce support from fans and key stakeholders.

Football is the biggest sport in the globe and with the present achievements and performances by our team and players we can open many doors for our players to ply their trade with professional clubs abroad. Part of my role is to position our players on the global platform and get more partners to support the work laid out by Fiji FA

TIMES: Was this role something you anticipated going into?

GUKISUVA: Sports marketing has been a part of me for the past 15 years and something I’m very passionate about. Through my last employer Vodafone I’ve had the opportunity to work with the four big sports in Fiji — rugby league, rugby union, netball and football.

Through those years, we have achieved some wonderful results together and milestones which we all hold dear to our hearts. I have also explored opportunities on how we can use sports as an export commodity for our country. We have seen great success in union and league and I’m certain with the right structure and approach, we will have more Roy Krishna’s from our country playing abroad.

TIMES: FIFA is a world sporting body and being part of this body is an achievement. What are some strategies this year to expand FIFA’s presence in the country, and how much have you set aside for your marketing or commercial campaigns?

GUKISUVA: FIFA’s presence in Fiji has been in existence since our inception and part of my role is to make this known through media and public participation. They provide a lot of support in areas of technical training, referee workshops, facilitating tours and just recently the re-launch the Play Fair concept whereby Fiji Football in conjunction with Oceania Football launched “Just Play” program in Fiji in February 2014 with southern schools. The program has been implemented into five different districts since then with 112 teachers, 24 community volunteers and about 6000 children involved in the program over a six-week period cycle.

With the financial assistance provided by the Australian Government through Australian Aid office in Canberra, the “Just Play” program is designed by Oceania football technical department to see children aged 6-12yrs participate in physical activities with properly organised football coaching session, which can be played anywhere.

This program is for holistic development of young people fostering physical and emotional health and building valuable social connections, which offer opportunities for young people to participate in sports and especially with other opportunities in their lives such as promoting education, health, inter-cultural dialogue and peace.

Fiji FA has enjoyed the continuous assistance, understanding and co-operation with the Australian High Commission by using the power of football towards developing a just and harmonious society in Fiji.

We hope to reach out to all 735 primary schools in Fiji in the next five years. Fiji FA, in partnership with OFC, is committed to growing football at community and school level.

TIMES: In this new role, what are some challenges you foresee as campaigns manager for FIFA?

GUKISUVA: It’s my third week at work and I’m doing some research on how the organisation works and how best I can use my knowledge to fill any gap. As we proceed in the year, I will be in a better position to put in place strategies that will assist Fiji FA in achieving some of its set key performance indicators. One thing for sure the road ahead will be a collaborative one, which will involve engaging fans and stakeholders in moving the sport ahead.

TIMES: You have been one of the driving forces working behind Vodafone Fiji’s success in the mobile market. What’s your secret to maintaining that drive for excellence?

GUKISUVA: It’s all about attitude and having the right one makes you a shining star.

TIMES: What are some challenges you’ve faced in your capacity in the past as a sponsorship and public relations manager?

GUKISUVA: Every day we learn something new and it’s upon us as an individual to make use of the new learning in life. We can choose to ignore it and hope it is not repeated if it’s not a pleasant lesson or choose to use the learn and put in place strategies to ensure that the bad stuff are never repeated and great stuff are captured for future events or when we enter into new commercial partnership. At the end of the day, life is what you make out of it. You can choose to come to work and do an 8am-5pm activity or look at doing things that will make you an effective and productive person.

TIMES: Soccer or football is a million-dollar sport. Will your role include assisting local development of soccer/football players in Fiji? If so, what are some of those programs in the pipeline to assist with development?

GUKISUVA: There’s many ways we get support from OFC and FIFA and this can be via technical support via training and workshop and through sponsored programs, which are usually launched globally.

I am working very closely with all stakeholders in understanding their roles and responsibilities once I have the full picture I will be in a better position to assist our colleagues in achieving their objectives.

I am grateful for the support given already by our local clubs and officials and the past few days I’ve had the pleasure working with officials from Oceania Football Confederation and leveraging off good practices.

All these will assist me in formulating strategies to lift the profile of football in our country. I will be officiating at the FIFA U20 World Cup next month and I’m certain the valuable lessons from this global event will greatly assist me here. Think global, act local I say.

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