Fijiana head coach Saiasi Fuli is urging upcoming female ruggers to jump on board, and help expand women’s rugby in the country.
Fuli explained that the bronze win in Tokyo was the perfect platform that for upcoming female players in Fiji.
He added that straight after the bronze medal win in Tokyo, his messages and email was flooded with requests from Fijian parents and young females asking about getting associated with rugby.
“Straight after that bronze medal win I had hundreds of calls from girls in Fiji and Fijians overseas wanting to come and join the Fijiana,” said coach Saiasi Fuli.
Full explained how crucial it was for them to reach that point and how it will indirectly change the course of women’s rugby in the country.
“It is the positive impact of this Olympic tournament and it motivates and encourages young girls in Fiji to take up the sport of rugby sevens and increase the number of women’s participation in Fiji.”
Fuli anticipates a bright future for women’s rugby in the country after their successful Olympics campaign and he advises all girls who’re interested to seek advice from Fiji Rugby Development Unit.
“I’m urging all upcoming female ruggers out there to join in the sport if you’re passionate about it you can visit our Fiji rugby development team for advice, we have coaches out there, development officers, and academy coaches that can coach you well,” said Full.
“You can learn the heart and skills of rugby, get into a proper pathway in women’s high performance, who knows next years time you could be playing super rugby, playing internationally, and we’ve got various competition, looking at the local 7s, the Vodafone Vanua, the Skipper cup,” added Full.
For Fuli, he likes to take on the odds head-on, he knows that being a female rugby player in Fiji is not that simple and this makes him the coach who he is today, he continuously pushes his players to the extend, getting them to their peak to play in their best form (which they did) and prove their doubters wrong.
“Some of my players were playing netball last few years, they were running in the Coca Cola games, and this year they got to the Olympics podium, that goes on to prove that rugby is an inclusive sport and we can do anything if we’re willing to do it,” said Full.
Former Fijiana assistant coach Chris Cracknell, who assisted Head Coach Tanivula in Rio shared the same sentiments adding that Fijiana has set the trend for upcoming female ruggers.
“It’s inspirational, not only for the kids back on the island, but if you look at the depth of the story, it could be inspirational for the girls around the globe,” said Chris.
“If you look at their stories and their backgrounds and where they’ve come from, what they’ve overcome and why they’re pushing themselves, it’s an amazing story,” he added.
“And looking at the fact that Fijiana are being rewarded and recognized for what they’ve achieved is fantastic,”added Chris.
“They’ve also been awarded a bonus for coming home with a medal as well, which just shows how much things have moved on, so to speak, from a couple of years ago when they wouldn’t have been seeing those rewards,” said Chris.