September 08, 2021
Fiji 7s and Tokyo Olympics Gold winning head coach Gareth Baber revealed that he is always inspired by young rugby players.
Baber in an interview with Fiji Rugby media said recruiting young players while coaching Fiji was always his plan.
“It’s always in my coaching. I have coached my kids from 4-5 years of age. I have been blessed to be in a position where I have seen all the development from academy coach at Cardiff Blues-my first position as a coach where your coach from 15 up to 20-year-olds. So I have a good understanding of what young people bring into a team.”
“There’s always a balance you have to store in recruiting your team between your experiences you need, Jerry Tuwai and Kalione Nasoko being a prime example.
My decision to Semi Radradra in the Olympics was a prime example. Having leaders as people to understand the system, pressure and scrutiny, who could talk, behave through it, be a model for others with what young players bring.”
The Welshman explained that young players like Iosefo Masi challenged his coaching level and also gave him an opportunity to explore young talents.
“I’m inspired with what the young players bring. The energy to thrive and what they are able to create in a short period of time and seeing the surprise on their faces when they do it. I look at somebody like Iosefo Mai and Seremaia Bai who spoke to me about him.
A back-row player who could play rover in 15s and played for Yamacia, I went to see him a few times so I thought yes definitely he has got something and kept watching him.”
“And to see how he developed now being at that podium- I think that he was still in shock that this happened to him in a short period of time. He was good for it and played in those last two games with a fractured hand as well. And that was another challenge which he never went through before,” Baber explained.
He said young players help in team formation with their energy level and growth mindset.
“When you invite young players they make mistakes but as a coach, you have to be objective with a piece to get them back together on the field and move them on again.
Any team that I take on, I know what the younger players' ambition drives energy, create in a team- alongside experience, tactical awareness and old heads that know the game. Especially in 7s when you get a good formation of that then I think you are in a really good spot.”
“The group that we had taken us through the Olympics-m people have come and gone through it. There have been some good people like Paula Dranisinikula who has been one of the best, consistent, smart and tough rugby players that I had the good fortune to coach,” he added.
By Romeka Romena