Satala, Singh call on players to improve

Fiji 7s team forwards coach Viliame Satala greets a fan at Namoli Village in Lautoka. Picture: ATU RASEA

Fijian athletes, especially in rugby and football, need to change their attitude and character towards the sport they play.

Former Flying Fijians and Fiji 7s team crack centre and former Lautoka rep Viliame ‘The Stretcher’ Satala, and former Fiji, Ba, Labasa and Lautoka football rep Dennis Singh made the call on Saturday after Satala helped coach the Fiji 7s side to its third Rugby World Cup Sevens win last week.

They are both Lautoka-born. “Players nowadays are not like us in our days,” Satala, who was the chief guest during the Lautoka Golf Club presentation on Saturday, said.

“I came through a lot of coaches and some of the best in Fiji and also in France. When they said, ‘jump’ we jumped. We followed all orders and instructions because that was our duty and responsibility.

“The most respected person in the team is the coach. Players have a duty to carry out and it is their responsibility to fulfil that duty all the time.

“Players demand a lot nowadays. They are lazy to train. They have to be told and guided. They have better resources and contracts nowadays yet they fail to meet expectations. That’s why we are not consistent in our performance.

“We make it our responsibility to get the required fitness during our playing days. We compete to be the fittest in the team and do our own training apart from team training.”

Singh said players nowadays, especially in football, had lost district pride.

“One example is when I played for Labasa against Lautoka one time in a Battle of the Giants final. I am Lautoka-born and die-hard fan. Lautoka is in my blood but that year, towards the end of my career, I switched to Labasa. Lautoka was then the champion.

“I had a big cut on my forehead when I had an aerial tussle with Sam Work. The referee stopped the game three times, but I refused to be replaced. Labasa won and after the final when I squeezed my jersey, three things flowed out. One was the sweat of my hard work, the blood of my sacrifice to win the final and the red colour of the blood which covered the white stripes which signified my pride in wearing that jersey in that final to get the win.

“Even though it hurt that I am Lautoka-born, it is the pride of wearing that jersey at that moment and its responsibility that made me fight on until the end. “That’s what’s missing in Fijian players now, no matter what sport you play. It’s time you should change because you are a Fijian and it is your responsibility to make Fiji proud.”

Singh leaves for Australia on Wednesday. Comments were sought from the Fiji Rugby Union.

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