Fiji pulls out all the stops to keep coach

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

FIJI has ramped up over­tures to sevens coach Ben Ryan giving him land and a chiefly ti­tle to keep the pop­u­lar English­man in the South Pa­cific is­land na­tion. Ryan has be­come the most ven­er­ated per­son in Fiji since guid­ing them to their first Olympic medal when they won the sevens gold in Rio ear­lier this month.

He has al­ready been awarded Fiji’s high­est civil­ian hon­our, the Com­pan­ion of the Or­der of Fiji, and moves are un­der way to give Ryan and his fam­ily Fi­jian pass­ports.

The 44-year-old has been swamped with lu­cra­tive of­fers from around the world since his Olympic suc­cess and has sig­nalled he will look for new chal­lenges else­where.

How­ever, au­thor­i­ties in cash­strapped Fiji say they are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to get Ryan to change his mind.

Vil­lagers in Serua, one of the 14 prov­inces of Fiji, on Mon­day gave Ryan a 3-acre (1.2 hectare) plot of land and the ti­tle Ratu, which is used by Fi­jians of chiefly rank.

Ryan has made no se­cret that he likes the un­clut­tered Fiji way of life.

He told the peo­ple of Serua that un­like over­seas teams who had an­a­lysts and abun­dant re­sources, Fiji had tal­ent in abun­dance and the play­ers were his re­sources.

“We have no an­a­lysts and com­put­ers be­cause I have 12 mighty com­put­ers, they’re the boys that play,” he said.

Ryan has said if dis­cus­sions with the im­mi­gra­tion depart­ment are suc­cess­ful, pass­ports could change his mind about leav­ing Fiji per­ma­nently be­cause his wife also wanted to stay and work.

“If the pass­port comes that means sud­denly she’s al­lowed to work here and that’s the sort of thing that might mean we have a re­turn here,” he said.

“The prime min­is­ter had spo­ken to me about that. I just need to send him some con­fir­ma­tion that I want it and they will ac­ti­vate it.

“So yeah, if I can get that be­fore I leave that will be pretty awe­some, and if I do come back it will make things so much sim­pler for per­mit and visas for me and my wife.” –

Photo: AFP

Fiji’s rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan (cen­tre) waves to the crowd as he walks with his team dur­ing a vic­tory cer­e­mony at a sta­dium in Suva, upon their ar­rival from Brazil fol­low­ing the Rio Olympics.

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