People of Fiji gift Olympic coach land and honorary name as a ‘thank you’

Fiji’s coach, Benjamin Ryan, has scored a big ‘thank you’ for his role in the rugby 7s team’s Olympic triumph.
Image: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

There’s no stopping the celebrations in Fiji, after the country took home its first medal at the Rio Olympics, beating the United Kingdom in a powerful, emotional rugby 7s match.

While the team has already been overwhelmed with plaudits, their coach has been scoring plenty of gratitude for his efforts too.

Englishman Benjamin Ryan, who has been Fiji’s coach since 2013, has been rewarded with three acres of land and given a chiefly name, Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara The honours come care of the traditional owners of the area in Serua, the Ketenitukani people.

The generous gift comes after Ryan was awarded the Companion of the Order of Fiji last week, the highest award given by the island nation.

Ryan spoke of his gratitude toward the people of Serua during a ceremony on Monday, calling the province his home.

“I just would like to sum up this really by saying that on behalf of myself and Natalie, I have love every part of Fiji but this part in particular, Serua. Serua will always be our vale [home]. I will be back soon, it will always be a place in my heart and I would just like to say a big vinaka vakalevu [thank you very much],” he said, according to Newswire.

Ryan is stepping down from the Fiji role after three years at the helm, saying he’s received as much as 20 offers from around the globe following his success. No doubt he won’t be receiving gifts as unique and special as these again.

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