Cricket Fiji

Volunteer staff leave behind a big hole in Pacific sport

Cricketers in Papua New Guinea and Fijian footballers were among a host of sportspeople forced to train in isolation or small groups, in an effort to maintain social distancing.

But dozens of key support staff that help Pacific Island sporting organisations operate were also told to head home - back to Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian Volunteers program repatriated 450 people working across the Indo-Pacific region, of which a significant number were based in the Pacific Islands working with local and national sporting federations.

'The face of Cricket Fiji': Pacific mourns death of Joe Rika

The 32-year-old died on Monday after suffering an asthma attack.

Rika made his international debut in 2006 and spent a decade playing for his country at the top level. He also took a big interest in the next generation of players and had stints coaching national age grade and senior teams, working as a development officer and, most recently, as the national high performance manager.

Cricket Fiji chief executive Alex Konrote said friends, family and former colleagues remained in "disbelief" as they attempted to process the news.