Being the latest inclusion in the Fijiana 7s team, Adi Cakobau School student Naomi Navuga hopes to fulfil her childhood dream of becoming a national representative for Fiji in the rugby field despite the challenges she faces of choosing between rugby and athletics.
The 19-year old sprinter has always been part of the athletics family in her high school days however rugby has always been her favorite sport back in the village.
The Yakete lass from Ba was emotional and proud to be the latest inclusion in the Fijiana family but she knows the challenges and experience will be different from playing in the village for fun.
“I have always been interested in rugby since I was a child back in the village because I only used to participate in athletics,” said Navuga.
However, growing up in the village as a young girl and playing rugby hasn’t been favorable for young girls or women as rugby was seen as a male dominated sport but I am glad that I have my family supporting me through.
“I want to thank my uncle Jotame Ramode who has always inspired me to join rugby despite the difficulties and challenges I face,” she added.
“It is part of living in the village to face setbacks from trying to achieve something different like playing rugby but I know I have the support I need to push me through and achieve my goal.
Navuga was dubbed as one of the expected athletes that was going to burn the tracks in the Coca-Cola Games earlier this year but now the ACS sprinter has other options which she has taken wholeheartedly.
“I am looking forward to this opportunity because I was preparing myself for the Coca-Cola Games but it was cancelled,” she said.
“This has always been my dream to join the Fijiana team and I know it is going to be hard because my sisters in the Fijiana 7s team have set a standard in the Olympic Games and I will do my best to help the team maintain that standard.
“I thank the Lord Almighty for choosing this path for me and I am looking forward to be part of the Fijiana family.”
Navuga has one younger brother, Mataiasi Vuki Nasolevu and shares maternal links to Nagado village.
Fijiana 7s Coach Saiasi Fuli’s reaction
Fijiana 7s Coach Saiasi Fuli said it’s all part of the initial plan that is to strengthen the squad base and provide a healthy competition on the depth chart.
“I’m starting to look at the broader picture which is balance our squad by introducing few young players to our squad for the long term and since we have some senior players heading into their last season, I need to create that pathway by starting to introduce some young players into the squad.
Naomi is currently the fastest girl in Fiji and her intention is to play rugby and why not, it’s the best time to lock her in and build her capacity of rugby knowledge and core skills.
She has pure natural talent and hopefully she will learn quickly and adapt to this new environment. Our role is to develop all our new intakes to learn and play as much rugby as they can and push for selection for international