WHAT YOU IGNORE IS THE STANDARD YOU ACCEPT
“Things can happen in a game that can make you lose important matches,” Ryan says. “Like a dropped ball on the way to scoring the winning try, a missed tackle or a missed pass."
“It’s important to understand the root cause for these things and it can come down to the simple things we have not paid attention to coming back to haunt us.”
Ryan recalled one incident where the team turned up late to breakfast, missed the meal, and as a result did not attend pre-game ice sessions, rushing their warm up. They lost the match to a team ranked much lower in the competition.
CENTRE EVERYTHING ON PURPOSE
“Having a shot at gold in Rio was a two-year plan,” Ryan says. “We sat down and planned the two years down to daily details. That is the plan we are following and everyone in the team knows about and works towards it.”
The team understands their purpose to such an extent, according to Ryan, members sometimes offer feedback when they feel they have deviated from the plan and need to get back on track.
Clear communication and understanding of purpose drives everyone toward honest conversations with each other and self-evaluation.
“This helps the team move together with the same ‘talanoa’ (dialogue),” Ryan says. “It’s really handy when facing tough game situations or coming back to win from a few points behind.”
BUILD RESILIENCE AND HABIT
“Sevens is a game that requires rigorous levels of fitness and a resilient mental attitude that can push through even when tested at its physical limits” Ryan says.
While players can go through the routine of the running and passing, the actions must still be coherent and maintain the team game pattern and strategy, he says.
“The team we pick to represent Fiji should be able to manage this change in gears as a matter of habit.”
PEOPLE ARE YOUR GREATEST ASSET
“Your people are the greatest asset in any organisation,” Ryan says, saving his best advice for last. “They need to be empowered, engaged and will be able to step and think outside the ordinary to achieve the extraordinary.”
As the team heads into Rio, Ryan says his goal is to make sure he delivers a team of the best individuals prepared to give 100 per cent for their country.
One day, he says, he would like to sit in the stands as a supporter, beer in hand and watch the legacy unfold. Ryan has worked tirelessly developing the sport and empowering local teams and individuals to step up – and make his job redundant.
Fiji goes into the Rio 2016 Olympics as an underdog, a small island in the South Pacific buffeted by wind and waves, crazy about the game of rugby.
The team have the will of the nation behind them to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in Fijian history.
Joape Kuruyawa is contributing editor at BlueNotes
BANNER PIC: Getty