Letters to the Editor – October 14, 2019

Sitiveni Rakai on attack for Labasa against Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Brave decision

HATS off to the Nadi Football Association for taking a bold stand against the eight players who went on a drinking spree. Despite the eight being key players, suspension was not lifted and Nadi lost to Labasa (5-0). If all districts take a similar stand I’m sure soccer in this country will progress. I believe Ba also took a similar stand during the year and I thank the districts for emphasising player discipline. RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM Balgovind Rd, Nadawa, Nasinu

Understanding Fiji’s hiss, roar

WHILE on my annual mecca to Suva, I have been reading numerous letters dripping with patriotic syrup on the Flying Fijians or injudicious assertions on why the coach, John McKee, should be fired. All of that, from a readers’ perspective, is the ideal elixir to soothe the soul but certainly not a constructive contribution to the future of the official No.1 game in the country. But then you come to expect that from the great unwashed who masquerade as keyboard warriors on a playground where their knowledge is questionable. The prudent, sidestepping the politically correct wagon, will take stock of where the Flying Fijians had stumbled and what can be done without bloodletting. In McKee’s defence, he can do everything to mentor his players but stop short of taking the field to dictate play or, for that matter, do their thinking. Did he err in making 12 changes in the loss to Uruguay? Definitely. Nevertheless, I’d like to think McKee didn’t act out of complacency against the South American minnows but, perhaps, overestimated the prowess of his greater squad members. The coach didn’t execute the high tackles or butcher kickable conversions and penalty kicks. It’s equally absurd to imply players’ ill-discipline, which on numerous occasions put the team behind the eight ball, is McKee’s making. Needless to say, it’s something all the respective individual players have to take ownership of in a collective effort. It’s certainly the best Fiji team I have seen in my lifetime. The forwards take me back to the era of former mentor George Simpkin, of Waikato, who had moulded his protege into a respectable juggernaut. It’s imperative for fans to understand Fiji’s hiss-and-a-roar starts against tier one nations, before flaking in the last 15 to 20 minutes, are symptomatic of a team who do not play on the elite platform often enough to build a mental fortitude of 80-plus minutes. Consequently that puts into perspective how daunting a task McKee and his stable of coaches face in bringing the players to a threshold of tier one excellence. If you don’t face the big boys often enough then the Rugby World Cup simply becomes a lolly scramble. To adopt a lynch-mob mentality towards players would be an equally hysterical reaction. The Flying Fijians are superb athletes in their own right and the onus is on the head coach to conjure formulae to eke out victories, depending on who the oppositions are. That Fiji do it for the best part is an endorsement of McKee and his stable’s blueprint. That they can’t convert them to victories is owing to a more complex structure. And, yes, it’s political. Enter world rugby whose lack of action means Fiji and other Pacific Island nations play tier one games as often as Santa Claus comes down the chimney. Now juxtapose that with Argentina who have been in the elite Rugby Championship Test mix since 2012, when it mutated from the Tri Nations of All Blacks, Australia and the Springboks. The Pumas have gone on to defeat the Wallabies and the Boks. In Europe, the Six Nations fulfils that role with Italy as the upstarts. In a nutshell, it’s a board game in the dimly lit corridors of world rugby and, at best, Pacific Islanders are seen as hybrid players who will be plucked from relative obscurity to boost the stocks of tier one nations. The eligibility rules of world rugby is a testament to that and the failed bid on a warped global rugby competition this year is a great snapshot of that mindset. The presence of pivotal Fiji, Tonga and Samoa players in tier one nations –– such as New Zealand, Australia, France, England –– over the years lends credence to that. However, this is a subject in its entirety for another time but the pilfering of players through high schools and academies should never extend to representing any other nation but your birth one. Had McKee enjoyed the exposure the Pumas and Italy have, the Flying Fijians would have been an even more brutal beast. When the All Blacks, Wallabies and the Boks go to their bench they seldom ever lose the intensity of
their starting XVs against minnows. Fiji doesn’t have that luxury. The Wallabies and Wales did and the defining minutes of their games against Fiji endorses that. Some key proponents, off the paddock, need to roll the dice on the board game to change Fiji’s fortunes. Scotland is threatening to sue world rugby of potentially robbing them of a playoffs berth with the advent of Typhoon Hagibis in Japan if they don’t play the hosts. Frankly the Scots knew what the terms of engagement were and have no one to blame but themselves. But my preoccupation is with Fiji. What would they do in such circumstances? Would they boycott seasons to end the rugby caste system? My suspicion is Fiji will be the nice guys of rugby who seem to be content with assuming the mantle of the perennial entertainers and eternally grateful for a pass to world cups. For Fiji to emerge from the teams who go to the world cup to make up numbers and provide scrimmages for the big boys, they need to be more professional in their approach. Accountability is crucial. Even the ABs conduct such litmus tests throughout non-cup years to ensure every player knows what his portfolio is. When, not if, Fiji make it to tier one then players will become employees with contracts. Therefore, don’t perform in any business set up and, as Donald Trump used to say, “you’re fired”. For now, other players are always in the pipeline to slip on their country’s jersey in what is a privilege that no individual should take for granted. It’s not sevens rugby.
McKee should be lauded for showcasing Fijian rugby and all its attributes. If he chooses to go then it’s his prerogative but
making him walk the plank will be tantamount to myopic behaviour from those drowning in the erratic waves of nationalism.
If it was as easy as appointing homegrown coaches then Fiji would have been a tier one nation many moons ago. ANENDRA SINGH, Hastings, New Zealand

Giving a second chance

GETTING a second chance to earn a living is usually hard. Six years ago my company gave eight former inmates a second chance. These boys were given cleaning work and when they first started most people were suspicious towards them. It took a year or so for the people to realise that they have changed. Thanks to the Government and some former magistrates who used to come around to counsel these men. Society has accepted them back. They don’t sleep on the street anymore, but they go back home. These boys helped stop many from pickpocketing. Imagine if we all can give a second chance to them. The Government of the day is doing its part and it’s time society does its part. NARAYAN REDDY Lautoka

Rising cost of living

NOWADAYS I am concerned about the increase in cost of living in our country as there have been increases in prices of goods and services. As a customer or consumer we should be aware about our right regarding the cost of living when compared with the income we earn weekly or fortnightly. We have the right to question businesses and companies on why the prices of goods and groceries have gone up because our expenses depend on the income we earn. Our salary remains the same whereas the cost of living increases. Before we spent $100 and went home with four to five plastic bags, but nowadays it can only cover one to two bags. Therefore, I believe that the government of the day should take proper care for the lives of its citizens regarding the fair distribution of an individual’s wellbeing and wealth in terms of income and expenses. LEPANI TACIKALOU Laucala Bay, Suva

Ways to save

I WOULD like to assist Government in suggesting ways to make savings. · Cut back on overseas trips, have video conferences where possible; · Lower travel per diem perks and stay in modest hotels not luxury ones; · Cut back on phone calls, no personal calls from government offices; · Plan government trips around the country and visit many projects on the one trip; · No aircon in government vehicles and if a vehicle is damaged surcharge the driver and the person in charge; · Multi-skill employees. When my electrical engineer nephew went with the Australian navy to Antarctica, they cut back on four staff members because he could do their job, but of course he was paid a bit more; · Cut back on entertainment or cut it out altogether; · Have meetings in government boardrooms not expensive hotels. (its about time government built a decent meeting room –– and yes make it five star –– in the long run we save); · Don’t make too many promises, when finances run out, the project is half done and will cost us more to upgrade in the future; · Cut back on the military budget and increase education. When you cut back on education you stunt education growth; · And no more pipeline promises. Amen. ALLEN LOCKINGTON Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Ireland v Samoa

IRELAND played with 14 men from the 23rd minute, but still managed to beat Samoa 47-5. This goes to show the level of rugby that Ireland is at. But there is another way to look at it, Samoa was really bad. ALLEN LOCKINGTON Kava Place, Waiyavi, Lautoka

Glendale 7s

trip WAS it merely a pleasure trip for our Fijiana team that recently took part in the Women’s Sevens Series in Glendale? WISE MUAVONO Hedstrom Pl, Balawa, Lautoka

Best evidence

PHOTOGRAPHS have been described to be the best evidence for potholes by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Can videos of vehicles travelling through pothole-riddled roads be also included? MOHAMMED IMRAZ JANIF Natabua, Lautoka

Pool project

IT’S good to be back in the country, but as I went around visiting friends and giving chocolates to some of my friends around Lautoka, I saw the swimming pool project has stopped. What happened to the September opening? I hope it’s not delayed again? JOHN BROWN Drasa Vitogo, Lautoka

Violent acts

WHAT is happening to the all-boys school in Tailevu. The alleged attack on the nearby villagers causing injuries is a very sad state. Who gave the authority to the students to go ahead with such an alleged violent act? This type of act does not paint a good picture of the school. The school had to present traditional apology to the villagers. The students taking such situations in their hands with violence is not good and they should be dealt with accordingly. There should be better communication between the students, teachers and the villagers. Hope things get sorted out soon. The school’s reputation is at stake. KIRTI PATEL Lautoka

Service delivery

INTRODUCING contractors have deteriorated service delivery by Lautoka City Council. It’s time they become responsible and employ workers they can train to perform according to standards expected by ratepayers DAN URAI Lautoka

Protecting forest

MALAYSIA retains a mere 18 per cent of its virgin forest intact (The Southeast Asian Times 30/9). Alas, the high price people have paid for progress. We must draw lessons from that and avoid going down that path of progress. Protecting our virgin forest should include our mangrove forests, which have been cleared to cater for big business interests in recent times. That’s not consistent with the public good. RAJEND NAIDU Sydney, Australia

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