Fiji NSW Cup Bid CEO overwhelmed by support
Newly appointed Fiji NSW Cup Bid CEO Tia Roko has been overwhelmed by the support from across the game for a team from the Pacific nation to join next season's Intrust Super Premiership.
Roko, who has been working with Cronulla on Pacific engagement, will establish governance strategies and policies for the Fiji NSW Cup team, which needs to secure a $350,000 bank guarantee by August to gain entry to the 2019 competition and is aiming to raise $1.5 million to ensure sustainability.
However, the momentum for the team has grown since ARLC chairman Peter Beattie recently identified Fiji as an area for expansion and further appointments are set to be announced, including coaching staff, along with the unveiling of the team's name and a range of merchandise.
"There is amazing support in the NRL community for a Fiji team and to hear people like Peter Beattie come out with statements like that, people are really taking notice," Roko told NRL.com.
"With PNG being in the [Intrust Super] Cup, we will be one of only two teams to come from the Pacific and there has been a lot of people putting up their hands and offering to help."
Among them are officials at some NRL clubs who recognise the need to have not only more women involved in leadership roles but also more people of Pacific Island heritage, given the high percentage of Polynesian players.
"I think the latest figures are about 47 per cent of players in the NRL are Polynesian but only two per cent of administrators are Polynesian," Roko said.
"Since coming into this role, people across the NRL in leadership roles have been contacting me offering to meet up or provide me with information.
"The NRL has done a lot of work in Fiji and there is a lot of talent there so we will bring a really good dynamic to the competition."
Bid Team director Petero Civoniceva said Roko had been chosen to ensure the franchise had a firmly established leadership and governance model in place.
The former NSW Police officer coaches managers and leaders across the business, sport, fashion and music sectors and is on State Government multicultural and justice advisory boards.
"I have always believed in being innovative in business strategies and I believe Tia Roko is the best fit for us in moving forward," Civoniceva said.
"I am proud to announce she is of Fijian background and the first Fijian-born woman to lead a rugby league club from the Pacific.
"Her role will be to helps us to set up the back end of our business including the recruitment of a solid and strategic board of directors, as well as setting up compliance mechanisms to allow us to operate in Fiji and in Australia."
Civoniceva said further announcements were imminent, with the team's name and a range of merchandise to be unveiled at a fund-raising dinner at Cronulla Sharks Leagues Club on June 8.
"I ask that all our supporters show their support by working with us and support our revenue raising strategies in the next few months," he said.
This is about community, as I have always believed. This is also about facilitating opportunities for rugby league players from across our beautiful islands of Fiji."