SPORTS

Our Man In Japan Tells Why He Is Still Behind Fiji Airways Flying Fijians

Driving home on the team bus it was seriously quiet for 20 odd minutes, then one voice started singing and the most beautiful hymn and soon all these big warriors were singing along.
29 Sep 2019 14:19
Our Man In Japan Tells Why He Is Still Behind Fiji Airways Flying Fijians
The Flying Fijians side before they took on Australia at the Sapporo Stadium.

Coming to Japan, I, as a fan, have come with big ambitions for my Fiji Airways Flying Fijians team.

With two losses in a row so far this has not changed, not a single bit.

This is not because they are nice humans, or that they always greet me with a smile and care, but this is nice. It is not because John McKee is my friend – although he is – it is not because I feel sorry for them, even though I do. It is because I see them train so hard, learn so much, share, bond and sacrifice as one.

This team is a success story for us Fijians. Although they may be getting judged differently at the moment, I can’t say enough of how they inspire me right now.

Like anything in life, knowing the full story is rare. I don’t know everything about them, but I am lucky enough to see more than most. The traits, the sportsmanship and the humbleness are pouring out of this squad of Fijians.

Ray of hope

Life is often judged on success and we are quick to jump for joy when they win, a little like Uruguay deservedly did on Wednesday.

Embracing the down has become a heck lot easier having spent our last week in tsunami ravaged Miyako, hearing stories of water powering in as high as 17 metres (level 4 building height) and leaving destruction that seems impossible to overcome.

These fine people lost so much, but chose our game of rugby to help lift them up. Our test match on Wednesday was an utter celebration that they are back.

The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium was purposely built to give the community something to cheer about. Seeing them embrace us, embrace togetherness and show that rugby is more than just a game was one of the best rugby experiences of my life.

The Flying Fijians did lose, but they also won. We took our loss on the chin; the team didn’t get scrappy on the field and ruin our dignity and a momentous day – they manned up and accepted it.

Although they will be devastated on the inside, they showed signs that they know they can get up. Driving home on the team bus it was seriously quiet for 20 odd minutes, then one voice started singing and the most beautiful hymn and soon all these big warriors were singing along.

Don’t give up

Scrolling social media, I read the harsh words of experts that have heavy fingers. As these critics sit behind their desktops, I watch Semi Kunatani doing extra weights and our coaching staff talking with our boys as if they are family that they love.

They are in a world class environment with science and experience here for our team. We have talent on the field and we have it off the field too. And this entire group is priceless.

They get the Fijian way, they connect with our men and could all be doing other more paid jobs if their hearts were not so giving.

Like the fine people in Miyako and Kamaishi have shown us, life has downs and that does not define you. Like them, I refuse to give up on the dream and I know there are 48 other people here in Japan doing everything humanly possible to give Fiji something to smile about. Vakabauta Viti!

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