Spiritual bonding | Rev Rinakama impacts players’ togetherness

Reverend Joji Rinakama. Picture: SUPPLIED

The involvement of the Reverend Joji Rinakama with the FIJI Water Flying Fijians helps players reconnect with their upbringing and have a clear mind during the Rugby World Cup.

Strength and conditioning coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka says while most teams have employed sports psychology, the Flying Fijians have reverted to using the principles of the Bible — working around honesty, discipline, consistency and enjoyment as the pillars of team.

“The big thing for us as Fijians is the spiritual side of things and that’s something we’ve been brought up with from a very young age. A lot of teams do sports psychology and all those kinds of things,” Cawanibuka said.

“Now, I would like to think that we have a big power in our midst with the spiritual side of things, with faith, the Bible and in our belief in a God.

“Something probably that has been missing is how you connect it to performance. Because when you look at high performance sport, it’s all the principles and the values that’s outlined in the Bible.

“When you talk about honesty, talk about diligence, talk about persistence, resilience, hard work, rebound ability, having mental focus, or having team unity or brotherhood, when love comes in, having honesty among you, and strong discipline. All those principles are in the Bible and these boys have read from a young age.”

He said the big challenge was trying to turn those principles into “to come alive in action”

on and off the field. “The thing that’s been missing is how you actually highlighted so you bring those words to come alive in action.

“And what we’ve driven hard at Drua and even now here within the Flying Fijians is to do what we say and to live our values, to live our principles.

“We’ve got four key principles, right we’ve got honesty, discipline, consistency and enjoyment.

“All of those four pillars are biblical-based. So what we’ve done with our lotu message is to align the message from the Bible to specific real behaviours we can see on a daily basis because we are measured by not what we say but what we do, and we try to build this amongst our Fijian brotherhood.

Cawanibuka said the players were professionals symbols of modelling to the younger generation.

“That’s something we hope we can we can really push. You only have 80 minutes out on the field to maximize your performance – there’s a bigger life off the field where these values and principles become very important. That’s something that makes this rugby program very special.”

He said the “lotu” by Rinakama connected players back to the villages where everything started for them, providing a linkage back to the vanua, to the vuvale, to the family and to the people.

“We’ve been away from home for a number of weeks now. So that’s what makes this environment special, where when we sit down as a group of brothers and have those spiritual devotions, it’s a time to reconnect, meditate, have clear thinking and he helps us do our jobs.”

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