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Team Cook Islands on their way to Noumea

Thursday 25 August 2011 | Published in Regional

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As excited local athletes bound for the Pacific Games in New Caledonia prepared for departure on Tuesday evening they were reminded that they werent going on holiday.

Minister of sport Mark Brown and Team Cook Islands chef de mission George George reminded the team of athletes that were heading for battle.

Kare teia i te tere orote te aere nei tatou ki te tamaki, George told the team.George told government representatives, parents and supporters that he couldnt make any promises for the athletes but he guaranteed that he would make sure that each athlete would compete to the best of their ability.

Minister of sport Mark Brown encouraged the athletes to embrace the journey as it would be an experience of a lifetime.

He reminded athletes that winning medals wasnt everything.

Winning is like a habit you develop over time as a result of hard work, Brown told the team.

Winning is an attitude and combine that with good preparations the medals will take care of itself. Brown reminisced of years gone by when he was once a rugby team manager and chef George George the head coach of the national team.

You have a good leader in George and I remember back when he coached the national team and he meant business then.

In fac,t he used to tell the boys when it came time to fill in their departure forms to tick the box business under the category reason for visit.

House of Ariki president Tou Ariki chanted for the safe journey of the team and told athletes and officials to leave the issues widely publicised in the paper and move on towards the goal of proudly flying the nations flag.

Legendary sportsman Papa Dan Kamana spoke on behalf of parents and wished the team the very best on their voyage and Pacific Games campaign.

The team departed on Tuesday evening was the bulk of Team Cook Islands athletes and officials, however a few more groups of athletes are still home in the Cooks and will make their way to New Caledonia via Auckland through the next week with some due after the opening ceremony on Saturday, August 27.