Fiji Time: 3:34 AM on Tuesday 28 April

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Powerbase shift

Fred Wesley
Monday, April 27, 2015

TAKE a bow people. Congratulations are obviously in order for the giants of Fiji secondary schools athletics.

Leave aside the fact that Natabua High School and Jasper Williams have shifted the power base of schools athletics to the West. What should stand out is the way they achieved the feat.

While Jasper successfully defended the girls' division title and won the title for the third year in a row, attention has shifted to Natabua for Saturday's achievement at the ANZ Stadium in the boys division.

Perhaps what will come to the fore is the manner in which these schools lived their dreams.

The scenario is a bit like that of national sevens rugby coach Ben Ryan's.

On an international scale, Ryan faces giants such as South Africa, New Zealand, the US, England and Australia who have money to burn and do not hold back when it comes to spending to prepare well for legs of the Sevens World Series.

Ryan has fallen back on the basics. Getting training sessions right, setting up a strong dietary plan for his players, getting them to work around structures they can understand on the field in attack and defence, inculcating an appreciation for the mechanics of teamwork and discipline on the field, and nurturing confidence and an appreciation of their roles on the field in various scenarios have been hallmarks of his campaign.

Most importantly, he hasn't allowed our disadvantages to hinder our progress at the highest level of the game.

Natabua and Jasper Williams appear to have come out on top through proper planning, the support of teachers, parents and former scholars. And no one can ever say they weren't patient either.

Queen Victoria School, Marist Brothers High School, Adi Cakobau School, and Saint Joseph's Secondary School weren't push-overs either. In the end, it is about progressive development and nurturing support bases.

There is a lesson here. It is about commitment and the desire to do well. It is about working hard to live a dream no matter how big the obstacles are. It is about self-belief. Not every athlete who makes it to the games will win a gold medal. There must be a sense of accomplishment though, of having made it there.

This is when the months of training, sweat, tears, and yearning for a taste of action on the big stage are savoured to the brim. This is when the long lonely hours on the road, getting up to train some mornings even when the body refuses to, will inspire athletes. They all have their little story to tell. They make the Fiji Finals special.

Every year we unveil the cream of the crop so to speak. Yet every year, when we do look back at this massive event, hundreds of our top athletes have disappeared.

The next big question now is… where to from here?

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