Archery gaining foothold in island nation of Fiji
The nation of Fiji consists of a collection of volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It’s a country known for its rugby and beautiful beaches but, over the past decade, archery has started to gain a foothold.
It’s a challenging region for the sport. Remote and geographically mostly more desert-island-esque than suited for a target range, archery has had its enthusiasts in Fiji but never a large community of shooters.
A decade ago, Fiji had five active archers, now it has 50.
“We are at a historical high in terms of members, due in large part to a push on social media, attracting people to try out the sport,” said World Archery Fiji president George Fong.
For archery equipment to arrive at the islands it has to be ordered from Australia, New Zealand or the USA. Archers struggle to obtain gear and many have older bows and arrows.
A package of beginner equipment from World Archery arrived mid-February 2019. It will allow the three archery clubs in Fiji – Suva, Colo-i-Suva and Cuvu – to reach more people and the sport to expand further across the country, especially to the west and north where there is currently no presence.
Colo-i-Suva will host a level on coaching course on 18-24 March, led by World Archery’s development agent in Oceania Robert Turner, for archers, sports officers from the Fiji National Sports Commission and the Fiji Paralympic Committee.
New coaches certified after the course will be expected to take archery to the rural village communities and schools.
“The main aim is to gain more qualified coaches in the country to aid with the continued development of the sport, specifically to organise beginner and youth courses,” said Turner explained.
Alongside the course, the national federation will host a development squad with the national team on 9-16 March, and school and para archery development programmes on 17-21 March.
Fijian athletes recently took two medals in the New Zealand nationals in Auckland. Three-time Olympian Robert Elder came second in the recurve men's competition and Frederick Leota was the third-placed compound man.
The travel abroad to New Zealand, and last year’s Australian Open, has been about gaining competition experience, especially ahead of the Pacific Games in July 2019.
That, and another big tournament on the Fiji archery calendar – the World Archery Oceania Championships in 2020, due to be held in this small island nation that’s starting to make big progress in developing archery at home.