Being a part of Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committees Athletes and Communities Engagement (ACE) Programme is a privilege and a responsibility.
FASANOC's Athletes and Communities Engagement (ACE) Programme co-ordinator Jeegar Bhavsar made the comment at the start of the 2019 Sports Training and Outreach Programme training workshop being held at the Fiji Olympic House in Suva which is the first pathway for athletes as they progress in the ACE Programme.
Jeegar said the ACE Program promoted athletes, who are known as Champions under the programme, not only sportspeople but also as role models and champions to their team mates, families, communities and to the country.
"Once our Champions undergo STOP training, they are able to not only advocate but also be role models who can make a difference in their sport, families and communities," he said.
"STOP is also the first step where athletes are given a year to prove themselves as Champions, where they are assessed on how well they present the topics on which they are taught during their training."
Jeegar said from STOP, the Champions then undergo further training under the Voices of the Athletes (VOA) Program, which includes OSEP presenter and educator training.
"Further topics are added to the ones they will learn this week when they undergo VOA training," he said.
"The final training they will undertake is called our Excellence for Life training where Champions are upskilled to master educator status and are taught on policy making and how to make decisions that will benefit athletes and communities."
Jeegar said it was also a pathway for Champions as they move and transition from being a competitive athlete to administration and decision making on FASANOC's Athletes Commission.
FASANOC STOP Champions for 2019 were given an overview on how they would advocate on topics that included Non-Communicable Diseases,, HIV/AIDS, Olympic Values, Anti-Doping and Go Green with the over achy theme of Be A Leader.
Jeegar said this was the most Champions they have had in a year and he was happy with their interest.
"We have athletes from sporting backgrounds like Athletics, Basketball, Billiard and Snooker, Chess, Football, Netball, Swimming, Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Fiji Deaf Association, Volleyball which is good for the program and will now have a wide reach in terms of advocacy and outreach," he said.
FASANOC Chief Executive Lorraine Mar, while welcoming the new Champions, stressed that as ambassadors and role models for FASANOC, their belief and commitment to the messages they delivered was just as important as the actual advocacy and outreach of the programs.
"It is also important that you as champions live the messages that are associated with the ACE program and hopefully through your work you will be able to influence and change lifestyles for the better," she said. She said that this would be a testimony as to the power of sport.
Lorraine said she was also happy with the National Federations and their athletes who have shown interest in the programme. She was also excited to include former high profile athlete and Fiji Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, Vaciseva Tavaga in the program.
FASANOC’s VOA Program is funded by the International Olympic Committee’s Promotion of Olympic Values Program and the Oceania National Olympic Committees’ Sports for a Healthy Lifestyle Program.