By Alipate Pareti
Seated right next to the Queen’s Highway along Viti Levu’s famous coral coast region, Nasikawa Vision College was well prepared and excited to participate in this year’s Coca Cola Games.
Head Coach, Milio Raiyawalevu explained, “We did a lot of off-season training way back in December 2022 and January this year. We did a lot of strength and conditioning training. It was new to the school, but I had to introduce that to help with our performance.”
Nasikawa did well in Sigatoka and were excited for the Coke games.
“We knew we were in the right pathway when we won the girls division of the Sigatoka Zone Meet. From there we knew we stood a chance to win some medals here in Suva.”
Raiyawalevu was happy for his team and credited all who were involved in its five-medal haul.
“A big thank you, to the school, the principal, the Vanua of Navosa and especially the parents for being behind us. We have now seen the product of our off-season training,” he said.
“We were aiming to win six medals when we were preparing for the games, but we ended up with five. So big praise to the athletes for training because it was not easy, but they trained really hard.”
And after the three days of tough competition, Nasikawa Vision College won two gold, one silver and two bronze medals – a great achievement for such a small school.
Raiyawalevu also commended his team for overcoming the challenges they had faced.
“We had no proper gym equipment to help with our weight training, so we used ice-cream containers and empty buckets, filled them with cement and joined them with iron bars. For our dumbbells, we used empty Fiji Water bottles, also filled them with cement and joined them with a small iron bar.”
He said they had to improvise in other ways.
“If you’ve been to Nasikawa, you’ll notice the ground is small. It is not big enough to hold a standard actual 400m track. We prepared a 200m track and we literally had to run around that twice, which is not supposed to be the case. We had to adjust ourselves before coming here.
The right nutrition plan was also a big battle for Nasikawa Vision College.
“For these students, when they return to their villages after school and training, they mostly eat tea and rice. So we had a very hard time trying to convince the parents that in order to come and compete well in the Coca Cola Games, they need to go on a diet.
“So we had to check our athletes’ lunch when they came to school every day. Before, they were eating a lot of rice and noodles. We had to encourage their parents that they should have bele, rourou and fish at home. That is more nutritious and beneficial for our children”, he said.
Team Manager, Meshar Ali also gave some insights into their school’s preparations.
“Majority of the input is from the coach. He designed the training program, the strength and conditioning (since we don’t have a gym) and the need for a proper diet for the athletes.
“Some of our athletes were sick before coming to the Games, and we thank God for answering our prayers and helping us recover and get well to be able to compete here.”
Like most schools competing this year, financial constraints were also a major drawback.
“We needed money to help in our preparations. Thankfully, Warwick Fiji hotel was very kind to help us in that regard. They sponsored our outfits and everything we needed in order for us to be here.”
Nasikawa Vision College fielded 40 athletes this year, focusing only on the Junior and Sub Junior grades. This has been an eye-opener for them, and they expect to see the fruits of their labour in the next two or so years.