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EDITORIAL : The Unsung Heroes Of Our Olympic Games 7s rugby Gold Triumph

By now we’ve heard them all! Yes, all those that have played a part in our successful gold medal campaign at the Rio Olympic Games. From God, to Government then
02 Sep 2016 10:20
EDITORIAL : The Unsung Heroes Of Our Olympic Games 7s rugby Gold Triumph
Editorial

By now we’ve heard them all! Yes, all those that have played a part in our successful gold medal campaign at the Rio Olympic Games.

From God, to Government then to the business sector, right down to head coach Ben Ryan, captain, Osea Kolinisau, rest of the players and to the coaching staff.

This week we even paid tribute to the man whose responsibility was to ensure that the players had their daily coconut juice during their training sessions at the Uprising Beach Resort in Pacific Harbour.

And we are still going on and on but so far there has never been a word of gratitude or even a mention of this group of forgotten people who have worked tirelessly behind the scene.

I refer to them as our unsung heroes!

Over the years, they are almost seen in every sevens tournament around the country, where they are always looking for new talents.

They identify them, rope them in and nurture them until they become better players. They do this without being paid, but the passion for rugby and the heart to do their country proud is what that drives them on.

Not only that, the work they have done has enabled many of our talented sports people to stay away from trouble as they realise the opportunity to utilise their talents in order to obtain a secure future for their families.

This special breed of people is our local coaches – the very people who are often subject of our jokes around the grog bowl as we tend to turn a blind eye on their massive contribution towards nation building.

Veteran coach master Epeli Lagiloa had to sacrifice his Christmas and New Year celebrations, as he worked on the fitness of Masivesi Dakuwaqa, who at that time was relatively an unknown player. Master Epeli did not see that but instead he saw Dakuwaqa’s potential and never gave up on him knowing that sooner or later he was going to hit big time.

Today, the rugby world has been awed by the bustling runs of Josua Tuisova, but little did they know that during the 2013 Wellington Sevens, Tuisova was flown back home after copping an injury in his debut match against Scotland.

No one bothered about Tuisova when he arrived at Nadi International Airport but it was Master Epeli, club officials and a handful of close family members that were the only people waiting for him. His club took care of Tuisova’s medical fees and helped secure his contract with Top 14 club Toulon.

And a much similar story could be said about Vatemo Ravouvou as well.

If we turn to Red Rock coach Lote Rasiga, this is the man tireless forward Jasa Veremalua refers to as his father figure.

Rasiga not only coaches the club, he funds all their activities and financially supports his players. It was through his guidance that Veremalua shot to prominence when he was awarded the 2012 Campese- Serevi medal during the Coral Coast 7s where Red Rock won the tournament.

Then we’ve Manasa Bari, the Police coach and former Otago Highlander winger, who took Samisoni Viriviri under his wings and turned him into what he is today.

Similarly with Warden coaches Timoci Wainiqolo and Max Hughes who had worked hard on developing Kitione Taliga.

Covenant Brothers for grooming Kolinisau and it did not end there as clubs like Sailosi Naiteqe Snr’s Samurai Barracudas, Davetalevu, Tabadamu, Hideaway Hurricanes and Uluinakau Babaas played their part where at times recruited many of these players to give them the much-needed exposure overseas.

As we continue on with our gold medal celebrations, let’s take a minute or two to at least remember our local coaches as they too played a big role in this Olympic Games success.

Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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