History makers: Vela Naucukidi attributes success to good management team

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The Fijiana sevens team manager said it was a surreal experience to be a part of the history-making bronze medal win at the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Vela Naucukidi said the entire team had set a goal of hoisting a medal at the Summer Games and they did not deviate from their aim at any time despite the immense challenges.

“I joined the team at the beginning of the year although I work on a fulltime basis with Fiji Rugby Union,” she said.

“I worked with a very good management team which included the coaches and medical personnel during the preparation phase which enabled us to win a bronze medal at the Games. We were all on the same page and worked towards the solitary goal of being on the podium after the conclusion of the event.

“It was the plan from the outset of a challenging but wonderful journey.”

She said the management team consisted of locals only which made their work easier because vital communication was relayed and absorbed easily.

Naucukidi said the fitness levels of the girls were up to the required standard to participate at the Olympics.

“The trainer did a tremendous job in that department when we were in our own bubbles in Fiji because of the protective measures in place.

“He improvised with the limited resources at his disposal and got the girls fit which allowed the head coach to impart the rugby specifics to the Fijiana team members.”

The FRU development manager for Women’s rugby said the culture and work ethics of the Japanese people was a learning experience.

“It was amazing with the way the Olympics was organised by the Japanese people.

“It was a challenge for us because with the Japanese it’s either black or white; there are no grey areas.

“With them if the rule says ‘you can’t it simply means you can’t’; as simple as that!

“They don’t bend any rules because if ‘you are late, you are late’ and no further questions are asked.

“They are very loyal and highly respectful people.”

Naucukidi said her role as the team manager was on another level because of the new normal.

“Everything was done online, which was conducted a week before the actual scenario unfolded.

“I had to do double-checks to ensure there wasn’t any disruption to either the girls’ training sessions or the coaches’ programs.

“The timings had to be spot-on and there was no ‘Fiji time’ syndrome.

“I had to plan ahead and was always the first person to wake up and last to sleep!

“The training venues were 45 minutes away from the Games Village and I had to be on top of my job.”

She said it was a huge moment for her personally when the Fijiana won the bronze medal because of her involvement with the development of women’s rugby in the country since the last decade.

“I think if all sports locally can work together, Fiji can produce more golden moments at the world stage in the sport of rugby.

“It’s about nurturing and moulding talents after identifying them.”

Naucukidi commended the Government for disbursing monetary rewards for the women’s sevens team.

“We are grateful to the Government for recognising the girls efforts.

“It’s a huge gesture of appreciation.”

She added it was a great feeling to eat rourou on Wednesday after a long time, while in quarantine at the Sofitel Beach Resort and Spa on Denarau Island.

“I just can’t wait to reunite with my family and I have really missed them.

“I am crossing the dates on the calendar as the end of self-isolation period nears and definitely my mobile phone will be switched off once I am with them because I don’t want any interaction with the outside world for some time!”

Naucukidi was one of the unsung heroes of the bronze medal win because of her professional input towards the Fijiana sevens team preparations for the Olympics.

History makers: Vela Naucukidi attributes success to good management team

SHIRAZ KASIM
21 August, 2021

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