August 19, 2021
Fijiana 7s Coach Saiasi Fuli says they endured a lot and the journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was tough and challenging for him and the players.
Fuli said despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting them, they were able to overcome all challenges and give their best in the Oceania 7s and then the Olympics where they defied all odds to win the bronze medal.
“It was a very tough journey and a challenging one as well. When COVID came in last year straight after Sydney 7s and it disrupted everything meaning rugby. Lockdown for five months and then everything was ok and then we started rugby again. So after a few months when we assembled the team it was surprising that they were all out of shape and we had to start again.”
“So the plan kept changing every time but luckily the good amnesty from the Fiji Rugby Union, they introduced the Skipper Cup for women for the first time ever in 2019 it was 10’s competition and last year it was 15s. So that was the only way we allowed our girls to have some game time and play as much rugby as they can before we resumed our camp late last year,” he explained.
He mentioned the side was lucky to have more game time as they managed to play in the domestic tournaments.
“We started with Skipper Cup this year and then it was lockdown in Fiji and it disrupted everything again so we had to change the plan again. Something that we learnt along the way is to adapt quickly on the changes. The new norm that has been happening with Fiji. We just need to adapt, try and move on positively.”
“We started of doing the Daily Trainings with a three day camp before we had our main three weeks camp that was late March and the Fiji went in lockdown. So it changed the whole direction of our planning especially our plans heading towards the Oceania the Olympics,” Fuli said.
He also highlighted that some of the players found it difficult staying away from camp but the guidance and messages helped them to survive.
“We were locked in our bubble for straight eight weeks and luckily we had exemption from the government to allow both the men’s and women’s to continue training. The other side of it was how we try and manage the girls.”
“To stay in camp and some of them are homesick and try to manage those situations and try and align our team and the mental state of everyone in camp that we must stay positive and continue with the journey. Second was to play and expose as much as we could during the Oceania competition which was our basis of selection and we headed to Japan for the Olympics,” he added.
By Romeka Romena