Radradra 7s: Vatuloko team tells of sacrifice to compete at tournament
21 June, 2019, 10:55 am
VATULOKO rugby 7s team was the first to register, first to arrive on Taveuni and the furthest travelling side to compete in the Radradra 7s tournament on Taveuni despite the lack of financial support faced by the players.
The highlanders are from the interior of Navosa and their village is located close to the border that splits Namosi, Serua and Naitasiri provinces.
The players sacrificed in the past five weeks to train and look for money to fund their way to the Garden Island of Fiji.
“We worked hard to participate in a tournament that is recognised across the globe,” team manager Jone Nacegali said.
He is a yaqona farmer at home. He said life in the interior of Navosa was tough.
“Unless you are well educated you could find a better job and be financially stable.
“I have 30 players. They are in the under-20 team and the senior grade. They are all unemployed and their daily lives are mostly on farming for their families’ needs. Rugby is a way to create job opportunities for these players.
“As a farmer, I provide employment to these boys as a source of income and when the idea of travelling to Taveuni came up, I asked the players to cater for their own travelling expenses from Navosa to Taveuni and back while I focus on our meals and other requirements.”
Nacegali’s dream is to see some of his players play for Fiji and some to get professional rugby contracts.
“I asked the players to look for $160 per person while I cater for the rest, but some had a tough time looking for financial support. Our club account had only $300 balance so I had to complete the outstanding balance because I have faith in these boys to be professional rugby players in the future.
“When we heard that the Fiji 7s coach was going to attend the tournament, I made sure to pay our registration because it would be a chance to prove our capabilities and be selected just like Semi Kunatani and Sevuloni Moceinacagi,” Nacegali said.
Nacegali and his players will continue to participate in other tournaments and they are also seeking support from anyone who is willing to financially support them.