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A change for the better

Kameli Rakoko
Thursday, February 13, 2014

TONGAN sevens performance and fifteens rugby should improve in the next couple of years after one of Fiji's most successful trainers moved there last year.

Wame Naivalu has moved to the Kingdom of Tonga to set up a rugby academy at the Api Fo'ou College and already has identified their weakness.

Hopefully by changing their training focus to more endurance rather than skills and strength, he will revolutionise rugby and sports in the Kingdom.

Naivalu said, "They are psychologically innovated, have always the feeling that they are strong and when it goes on to rugby preparation, they continue to mostly motivate their training sessions in to consecutive hard training sessions.

"But they fail to understand that endurance is the base of all fitness and of course they always overlook it but go into more skills session."

Naivalu said it was just a state of mind to focus on other things such as strength.

"Yes, they are hardworking people and that mentality has shifted into their preparation as it comes specifically to rugby, they go more on hard tackles, hard rucking etcetera but their performance and game tend to slow down as game continues, which barely shows that they are concentrated more in to the upper fitness components and forgotten the base endurance."

Already he is reaping results after the college won a sevens tournament and after beginning with 11 students last year, the number has grown overnight to 80.

To prove his point he helped Marist Club beat national Tongan champions Vaini 47-7 and Army 66-0 last year.

He says the program will pick up in the next three to five years time and will benefit the schools, clubs and of course the national rugby team in the Kingdom of Tonga

However, he says he is still in the process of setting up the academy, putting into place programs to absorb the demands in terms of speciality.

Naivalu said, "Students come in full-time and part-time within the school and also those that attend after school so it's a kind of an 8-5 full force work.

"We have students travelling all the way from western part of the island and our school has a feeder club and has achieved very good results as compared to the past.

"We are now working on projects like creating career pathways to overseas clubs of which about 10-15 will leave very soon.

"I am also conducting outreach programs to our sister schools and the community and conduct strength and conditioning awareness with club trainers," Naivalu said.

He is planning to decentralise his graduate students around the country to fast trek the implementation of the training culture and set up a major training complex for the rugby academy in the college which will be opened next month.

Naivalu, a former Tilak High School head boy, moved to LDS then joined the navy where he became a Fiji Navy physical instructor.

He studied at the Australian Navy training base and also continued at the Monash University doing more on Physiology and Anatomy.

Naivalu's first rugby training experience was assisting the then Sukuna Bowl Army team which was captained by the late Nemani Matirewa to win three Sukuna Bowl games in a row.

He left the Fiji Navy to assist in the setup of the first-ever Sports Development Unit with former national netball coach Julie Hoornweg and assist their netball team to rank 6th in the world that time.

He also attended a Level 2 IAAF in Adelaide, Australia and his first experience as fitness trainer in provincial level was with the Naitasiri rugby team.

He took over in 1998 and with that inception of his fitness knowledge he assisted the team in winning the Farebrother-Sullivan and Telecom cups consecutively for two years.

He then moved to assist the Namosi, Ovalau and hometown team Lautoka.

He also assisted Kadavu in their promotion from island zone to B Division and conducted sports development programs with the Ministry of Sports.

Naivalu also conducted physical training instructors course at the RFMF.

His training skills assisted the Flying Fijians to the 2007 Rugby World Cup team preparation, National 7s and U20's.

He joined the FRU rugby development unit, completed his IRB Level 1 & 2 and IRB Strength and Conditioning courses conducted by an educator from Auckland.

Naivalu also set up sports and rugby academies in Lelean, John Wesley College, Rewa Sports Academy, Nadogo Sports Academy and consulted in the setting up of the Ba Provincial Sports Academy.

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