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Stories of Change: William Qounadovu

SUVA (Fiji) - William Qounadovu was one of the pioneer volunteer coaches of Basketball Fiji's (BF) Hoops For Health program when it was launched in 2013 and the Fiji national team member continues to help out with the program six years later.

In the first iteration of the Hoops For Health program in Suva, there were only a handful of volunteer coaches in attendance, one them was a 21-year old Qounadovu.

"I started with the Hoops for Health program in 2013 when it was the first launched in Fiji. I was one of the 12 coaches who started the program here in our country," said Qounadovu.

The Hoops For Health program is an Australian aid initiative implemented by Basketball Fiji on behalf of the Australian Government in cooperation of FIBA. The program is centered on introducing basketball to the youth while also incorporating health awareness in the program.

The 6'4 hulking big man shared that he was already helping out in BF's programs since his secondary school days in 2007.

"I started volunteering for Basketball Fiji back in high school when I started playing basketball and this was way back in 2007. I started helping out by being a bench official in every secondary school tournaments they have organized," he said.

Qounadovu has been part of the national team of Fiji and represented the country in the 2017 FIBA Melanesian Cup in Papua New Guinea, the 27-year old reminisced on his early days with the Hoops For Health program.

"I remember traveling by bus or even walking along the high way of Nadi with 6 basketballs on my back going to various schools and communities to do clinics for half a day or even a whole day. Every day you face different types of scenarios and I have learned a lot of volunteering in teaching the kids," he said.

"I also remember how hard it was to balance coaching, playing and just being young. I had to learn to be a better person for the kids because I was a mentor to them. I believed that the program teaches us to be great role models and athletes for the youth," he added.

Qounadovu is currently a Data Cleansing Officer for the Fiji National Provident Fund and despite his full-time job, he is still active as a volunteer if his schedule permits.

"I still volunteer for Basketball Fiji even though I have a full-time job. But if I have spare times, I always make an effort to help out in their programs," said Qounadovu.

"The Hoops for Health program plays a major role in our community because it incorporates health messages together with basketball. Since NCD is on a rise this is one way we can spread the message to our communities, because prevention is better than cure," he proudly added.

Basketball Fiji's programs provide more avenues for national athletes to be more than a player but also a role model and a good influence on the youth and Quonadovu is a making a difference on and off the court with his generous effort to help Fiji Basketball develop.