FOR a moment, Sireli Cakau Uluilakeba forgot he was battling a deadly disease.
The 14-year-old former Kaila! Star Search contestant who is diagnosed with a severe rheumatic heart disease was at ease when he met the Digicel Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan yesterday.
Ryan accompanied the captains of the teams participating in the Fiji Water Centennial International 7s tournament during a visit to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.
The visit brought delight to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School Form Three student who has been hospitalised for about two months because of the illness.
He is undergoing antibiotic treatment while waiting for his valve surgery scheduled at the Sydney Adventist Hospital once his family raises enough money for the treatment.
"It was very exciting for me to see them and have a chance to talk to them," Uluilakeba, who hails from Tubou, Lakeba in Lau, said.
"All I ask Ryan is to improve the Fiji 7s team. I want the team to become better," the ardent Fiji 7s fan, who adores maestro Waisale Serevi, added.
Ryan was touched with the visit and said the national 7s team had the ability to inspire the nation through its performance.
He hoped the team would play their hearts out in the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series to inspire those who were going through tough times.
"The real stars are the kids in the ward. They got smiles on their faces despite going through some serious illness," Ryan said.
"You feel very humbled when you come to do this sort of things because the rugby field is so small when you see life at stake.
"The Fijian 7s team has the opportunity to inspire the nation unlike all the other places in the world.
"These boys can hopefully see that wearing the white shirt is more than just playing rugby in this nation.
"I'm looking forward to getting fully involved in all this and hopefully get back here a lot more in future."