AFP members who live and work in Solomon Islands have dedicated their time and expertise in various sports to prepare local athletes competing in the 2023 Pacific Games, which officially get underway today.
The head coaches of the Solomon Islands Pacific Games judo and golf teams are both AFP advisors under the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and AFP Policing Partnership Program (RAPPP).
For the past several months they have been volunteering their time, working closely with the athletes to hone their skills and knowledge ahead of what will be the first major competition for some of them.
AFP RAPPP Advisor Kevin Shaw has been practicing judo for 40 years and was approached at a competition in Australia to see if he would be interested in working with the Solomon Islands judo team for the games.
AFP Advisor Shaw has been able to balance the work he does with the AFP with spending time coaching, which has included grading the athletes by Australian standards, introducing them to new skills and getting them mentally prepared for a major competition.
“The team is going very well. They are very keen, willing to learn and are enjoying their training,” he said.
“There has been a huge improvement in their judo skills and is has been so rewarding to be a part of the story and journey of these athletes.
“There are a lot of players who will be competitive at the Pacific Games, but the main thing is that they enjoy themselves. This is the first competition for all the athletes so as long as they enjoy themselves and they learn from it, they will just get better and better.”
Judo athlete Elizabeth Masae said the team was well prepared heading into the games.
“The Pacific Games are a history-making moment for Solomon Islands, and we are very proud to be a part of it,” Ms Masae said.
“We are so thankful to have Kevin as a coach. He has trained us well in many new skills and techniques and we are ready to go.”
Before joining the AFP, Senior Constable Nathan Weaver was a professional golfer. He now combines both passions while deployed to Solomon Islands.
As head coach of the Pacific Games Golf Team, Senior Constable Weaver has spent time improving players’ technical and mental ability for tournament play.
In collaboration with the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport (SINIS), he has been instrumental in ensuring the team received new golf equipment including; clubs, golf balls, shoes and gloves. He was also involved in organising a team trip to Australia where they had the opportunity to play world-class golf courses in preparation for the Pacific Games.
Senior Constable Weaver said it had been extraordinary to be able to give the players an opportunity to represent their country at a national level.
“Golf has been a big part of my life and it has been so special to be able to give back to a country that means so much to me,” Senior Constable Weaver said.
“The players are very proud to be representing Solomon Islands on their home golf course and showcase what they have been working hard towards.
“If we were to win at least two medals in the Pacific Games, one in the ladies’ comp and one in the men’s comp, it would make me prouder than anything.”
Golf athlete Ravatu Tabe said it was a privilege to have the guidance of Senior Constable Weaver ahead of the games.
“We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to train under Nathan who has taught us new skills and given us a lot of confidence in preparation for the Pacific Games,” Ms Tabe said.
“I am very excited to represent my country in front of a home crowd. I have been playing here for more than 20 years and can’t wait to showcase my skills.”
Another AFP member is the SINIS track sprint coach, having worked with 95 athletes from the National Training Squad and Emerging Talent Squad, including three para-athletes.
He has helped the athletes develop their running technique, speed endurance, strength, and power ahead of the Pacific Games.
At the Solomon Games held earlier this year, athletes he trained won more than 40 medals.
“The tenacity and determination of these athletes is truly amazing given the challenges they face in their daily lives,” the AFP member said.
“It has been both humbling and extremely gratifying training these young men and women who just want to better themselves, represent their country and be positive role models for Solomon Islands youth.”
The Pacific Games are being held in Solomon Islands for the first time in more than 40 years, with 5000 participants from 24 Oceania countries and territories competing across 24 sports.
The AFP is working side-by-side with the RSIPF in support of the Pacific Games security operation.
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