Fiji unveils special currency to honor rugby sevens stars

Fijian Olympics gold medalists as displayed on the new currency. (PHOTO/Fijian Government Facebook Page)
Fijian Olympics gold medalists as displayed on the new currency. (PHOTO/Fijian Government Facebook Page)

The Fiji men’s sevens Olympic gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 made global headlines as the Pacific nation won its first medal at the summer games in a sport that commands such euphoric support.

The Fijian government and its citizens celebrated the sevens team as heroes on their return and almost the entire country came to a stand still as an open-ended bus snaked it’s way through the streets of Suva on their return amidst an overwhelming display of joy, gratitude and chants of “go Fiji go,” renting the air.

Their 43-7 victory over Great Britain in the final of the inaugural Olympic sevens tournament sent shockwaves around the country and catapulted the squad to the level of national heroes.

Seven months after that historic victory at the Deodoro stadium in Rio crushing a combined Great Britain side 43 – 7 in the gold medal match, the Fijian government has ensured their win is forever etched in Fijian sporting history in a unique and accessible way.

Front Side of Fiji Sevens Coin. (PHOTO/Fijian Government Facebook Page)

The Reserve Bank of Fiji announced on April 20 that a commemorative circulation banknote and coin celebrating Fiji’s Olympic gold medal in the men’s sevens would be used as a legal tender.

The Fijian 7-dollar note unveiled by Prime Minister Rear Admiral  (Retired) Josaia  Voreqe  Bainimarama  has an image of current Fiji Sevens captain Osea Kolinisau in full flight juxtaposed with his country’s flag with former Head coach, Briton Benjamin Ryan seated at one end leaning on his right arm.

On the reverse side, the note has an image of the entire Fiji sevens team and the technical bench after their triumphant win in the gold medal final match.

The 50-cent coin has Benjamin Ryan once again in a seating posture with his name and title as coach on the lower part of the coins’ circumference.

According to a press release from the Reserve bank of Fiji the idea was conceived immediately after the team’s memorable victory in Rio.

“We are pleased that we are able to deliver to all Fijians a high quality banknote and coin that would mean a lot to many Fijians and an inspiration to aspiring sportsmen and women as well as our children,” the release said quoting the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Barry Whiteside.

The commemorative notes and coins will be used as legal tender banknotes and coins but are likely to evolve to collector’s items and could be rarely available in circulation.

“ It is expected that people would keep them as souvenirs,” Whiteside observed.

Former Fiji Sevens Coach Benjamin Ryan who attended the unveiling posted images of the commemorative notes and coins expressing his gratitude for the special recognition.

“Here is the $7 bill too – just shows you how much the Fijian people care and value its rugby. Awesome.”

Only a limited number of notes and coins have been produced and they will be issued through commercial bank branches in Fiji from the 21st of April 2017.

Front side of the Commemorative Fiji Sevens Note. (PHOTO/Fijian Government Facebook Page)

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Story By Bernard Ndong
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