11 February 2009
Fiji netball team waiting for visa for NZ
Fiji's national under-21 netball team are waiting approval from the New Zealand government before they head to Auckland for the pre-World Championship tournament.
The tournament starts February 27, yet it is still unclear as to whether the Fijian team would have a New Zealand visa for every member, reports Radio New Zealand.
The New Zealand immigration department has a policy of denying New Zealand visa applications for anyone with connections to the Fijian military, which staged a coup in 2006 to overthrow the then Fijian government.
Over the past few months, several sports teams have encountered trouble gaining entry to or transit through New Zealand because of their connections with the military, including Fiji's under-20 touch football team and the national under-20 football team.
Fijian netball coach Melissa Walker says so far her team has suffered only one New Zealand visa application rejection.
"All we’re hoping is that we can get the visas from New Zealand, I mean it’s very sad to be honest when sports is brought into the politics circle, I mean this is one of the hurdles for us and Fiji obviously what’s happening here at the moment, but this is going to be a great opportunity for us if we get it but otherwise we going to have to try and go to Australia or further afield to try and gain some experience," Ms Walker told reporters.
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.