Fiji 7s in Hollywood
THE Vodafone Fiji 7s team’s rags to riches story under the tutelage of ginger-haired English coach, Ben Ryan, has caught the attention of Hollywood.
In an interview with popular US sports network CNN, Ben Ryan revealed that producers from tinsel-town were looking to produce a movie that will capture Fiji’s climb to the top of the World Sevens Series on the big screen.
“Producers who have worked alongside people like Steven Spielberg are talking to us and looking to plan something that could be not just a small budget but a big-budget documentary that would get to cinemas across the world,” he said in the CNN broadcast which was also uploaded on popular social media site, You Tube.
Hollywood, Ryan said, wanted to document how the Englishman took on the challenge of moving his family 16,280km from London to Fiji and, in the process, captured the hearts of 800,000 rugby crazy fans.
In the interview with CNN International digital writer Gary Morley based in London, Ryan said taking up the opportunity to coach Fiji had been a whirlwind affair.
“It’s been everything from the second-biggest cyclone to hit land mass in their history and boys having their houses wiped out; we’ve had death within the playing group; we’ve had all sorts of things going on.
“We’ve had this amazing rollercoaster of a ride, it’s been unbelievable —— to the point that Hollywood is interested.”
The 44-year-old coach said his experience in Fiji —— from his relationship with the players, expectations from fans and issues on and off the field made for an interesting movie script.
While reflecting on the highs and lows of his time in the country, Ryan shared how he was unpaid for four months when he first arrived in Fiji and described it as “the worst financial period in the history of the Fiji Rugby Union.”
The coach also shared how he got people onside by spending his first few weeks observing the team at play before introducing changes.
“I’m glad I took time to take a breath and take stock because it’s borne fruit in the past two years.”
And his approach has paid dividends.
In Ryan’s first season in charge, Fiji won the Sevens World Series for the second time in its history —— eight years after the first —— and brought an end to New Zealand’s domineering four-year reign.
In the process, the team qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Retaining the title in the 2015-16 season means Fiji will be top seeds as the shortened code makes its Games debut in Brazil in August.
When asked if Fiji would be able to handle the pressure, the Englishman said nothing could compare with the scrutiny given the team, management and coach by the Fiji media.
“It’s every training session, every day the newspaper front and back page, and every time on the six o’clock news —— so that sort of pressure they are used to.”
The popular coach also shared about how he was mobbed by fans and well-wishers in Fiji all the time. However, Ryan said, the atmosphere at Rio would be testing, even for a team that was used to pressure, like Fiji.
“I don’t think any of us will be fully prepared for the distractions that will hit us in the (Olympic athletes’) village. I speak to so many Olympians and they say the first one is hard to prepare for; it’s only in your second cycle that you get it right.
“For us as a sport we’re all in our first cycle, so even if we all get it wrong someone’s going to win a gold medal! Whoever gets it less wrong is going to win.”
Source Fijitimes Thursday, June 02, 2016