Help for our keepers

Ba goalkeeper Epeli Codro makes a save against Amicale FC during their clash at Govind Park in Ba. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Ba goalkeeper Epeli Codro makes a save against Amicale FC during their clash at Govind Park in Ba. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

A LOT of former goalkeepers would have said the same thing as Simione Tamanisau when he wished he was still young with the arrival of new goalkeeper coach Xavier Henneuse.

Fiji has been losing games through poor goalkeeping and it takes special people with courage and special training to become a goalkeeper.

They are my heroes on a football pitch.

Like the tighthead prop in a rugby paddock so is the goalkeeper.

The tighthead prop sometimes faces tough openside props in scrums who will lift their right shoulder, the hooker presses down the left shoulder and he has a big lock on his left hip and a flanker on his right hip all pushing in different directions.

If they have not gone through specialist neck and shoulders training their necks could just snap and injure their spinal chord, become paralysed or even die.

But if you want to experience something similar to someone standing in front of a firing squad seen of films then become a goalkeeper.

Having to stop balls fired at point blank range at 100 mile per hour onto your face and other exposed area is not my cup of tea.

I’ve had a bad experience of being a goalkeeper in a makeshift team during businesshouse competition when players caught up at work started arriving at different times of the game in progress.

Usually a right wing I volunteered for the job before the real keeper arrived and we were two players short with no fullback and sweeper.

That made it worse as the other team, a well-organised businesshouse team full of reps and club representatives had a field day firing away at close range and I let in six goals before the keeper arrived.

The only comforting thought as you stand at the goalmouth is that the kickers will try and avoid you and kick away from you. But it does not always happen that way as the leather ball hit your stomach or head but I have never seen a goalkeeper hit between the legs except by the opposition boot when he goes high or dives to battle for a ball.

But I have seen a goalkeeper receiving a high ball and taken in a tackle by the speeding striker into the goal. It happened in a religious tournament in Suva and fearing for his life the referee came and awarded the goal.

While Tamanisau has become the nation’s top goalie in the past 10-15 years many other big tough goalkeepers like Nadi’s Savenaca Waqa and Ba’s Bale Raniga battled against each other for many years and represented Fiji in many international matches in the seventies and eighties.

Then there was Hurricane Naivivi. These goalkeepers ruled the goalmouth and penalty box area like dangerous predators prowling the grounds and strikers feared them. On top of that they had big tough sweepers in the likes of big Ba man Jone Nakosia who could break bones with a stomping of a striker’s feet as he kicks.

Having such dangerous men guarding the goalmouth improved the skills of the strikers.

The most memorable interdisctrict final still vivid in my mind was the battle between Ba and Nadi at Ratu Cakobau Park.

Sweeiping for Nadi was Eremasi Barcadi and the score was 0-0 at full time and extra time was given yet no one scored.

Then in the final moment of extra time Ba right winger Feroz Khan dribbled along the sideline and lobbed a pass on to the penalty box.

Nadi goalie Save Waqa came up turned towards the Korovou side of Ratu Cakobau Park and made a jump. The ball just sailed past the tip of his fingertips.

Speeding in from midfield was Kini Mocelutu, elder brother of Inia Bola and Ravuama Madigi.

Mocelutu connected with the ball Waqa missed, hitting it with his head as he dived in like a torpedo.

The ball rocketed to the back of the net and Ba won the IDC trophy 1-0.

So, as our upcoming goalkeepers get professional training, it will definitely make it harder to score goals and in the end strikers will have to improve their skills to beat them.

We welcome Hennuse to our shores and we know he will make a significant improvement to soccer as a whole in Fiji.

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