This week I enjoyed the nostalgia induced by watching the 2022 Coca-Cola Games unfold over the past three days.
The sea of colors, sizes and shapes, and the kaleidoscope of emotions on people’s faces told a story that said “the wait has been long”.
It was a time to forget about COVID-19 and how it had denied us the opportunity to participate, have fun, wear our school colors and cheer on our favorite teams.
The last two years had indeed been very restrictive and stressful.
Both waves of the pandemic hit right before the games and this was very disappointing for the athletes, schools, fans and families who attend each year.
Apart from the tough competition and school rivalry, it was good to see Fijians coming out in droves to have fun.
The Coca-Cola Games are not just an annual sports competition.
It has a number of different benefits and values.
The necessary preparations before the games teach the students how to treat their bodies so that they can reach their maximum performance.
By participating, students help each other stay healthy and fit.
Some follow a special diet regimen, reduce their intake of carbohydrates and eat a lot of healthy and wholesome foods.
Staying committed to months of training and dieting takes a lot of focus, discipline and drive.
Games also teach athletes how to organize and manage their time wisely in order to achieve specific goals, make friends with strangers, develop relationships with peers at school, and acquire new skills that will help them later. life
There is no unique event in Fiji that can bring together young people from different parts of the country like the Coca-Cola Games.
This year, only 3000 athletes participated.
This is amazing!
Many friendships forged during competition days remain intact, even when students leave school and become adults.
Rivals in specific events learn to respect each other and some grow to become best friends.
Like any sport, the fans who scream like crazy from the sidelines, the bleachers and the corporate poles are one of the most important groups in the game.
They come in their thousands to cheer on their schools and give encouragement and support.
The frenzied screams, fan wave and wild whistles help motivate the competitors to do their best and not give up when they are about to give up.
Fans also purchase merchandise, a cap or t-shirt, and help raise funds for athletes and former scholar associations.
There is no sport without its supply of loyal fans.
Family support helps athletes feel good about themselves, their performances and their achievements, even though they may not win a medal.
A kiss from the mother on the floor and coaxing from the father like “Do your best son!” it can make a discouraged athlete do better the next time.
It is quite amazing to note that sports can make parents and children understand and appreciate each other.
The Coca-Cola Games are definitely a family affair and they thrive on it.
Family is the strongest force behind any sports athlete.
Participating in sports helps develop leadership skills.
Participation in the Coca-Cola Games has given young people the opportunity to learn new life skills.
Team or grade captains may be mere teenagers, young and small, but they actually become role models for their peers and youngsters.
By simply being a captain they learn to delegate, communicate, encourage, empower and lead by example.
All of these become important values in life as they grow older.
Everyone knows that the schools that perform best during the Coca-Cola Games are the ones with good quality coaches.
These important people give encouragement but their main job is to push the athletes beyond their limits.
Some former scholars give to their schools by coaching and many offer their time and energy without payment.
They are the unsung heroes.
Positive coaching techniques, which don’t make youngsters feel bad about themselves, help boost team morale and unity.
Coaches give athletes the tools to win as teams together.
The difference in the performance of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School athletes this year was the coaching and career guidance they received.
It is common to think that schools that perform well in sports do not perform well academically.
This is not quite true because participation in sports can have a positive and lasting impact on schools.
The secret is to find the right balance, meaning if students can learn to organize their time and discipline themselves, they can succeed and come out on top in both.
Many students who excel in sports may not be academics, but they could become national icons and then represent the country internationally, through sports.
As they become famous, credit also goes to the school that molded them and first recognized their talents.
The Coca-Cola Games would be incomplete without selling a hamburger or roti on the roadside on the way to the stadium.
Women and men who prepare food and sell it wake up very early in the morning.
They have become an integral part of the games every year.
It’s not easy to feed thousands of hungry people, but these small businesses make sure that everyone who enters the venue to watch the games is well supported and fed.
At the end of the day, food vendors can put food on the table and support their families with the money they earn.
At the end of the day, this week’s staging of the Coca-Cola Games brings a lot of benefits to Fiji and everyone is involved in making it a success.
A family of citizens is created who meet annually and put aside their differences to enjoy each other’s company.
The torch relay and torch lighting of the games is itself a glorious moment.
“The lighting of the torch symbolizes many things. It symbolizes the resilience of our country and our athletes,” said organizing committee chairman Lawrence Tikaram.
“The torch is a sign of solidarity… it symbolizes hope for many people and many athletes who will make these their last Coca-Cola Games. For many it will be the first.”
He said it was hoped that many athletes would be inspired to represent Fiji in the future at international events, beyond the Coca-Cola Games.
I take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners and all those who participated.
Hats off to the organizers and may the 2023 games be better, bigger and more memorable.
Until we meet on this same page at the same time next week, be blessed, stay healthy and stay safe!
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