IT WAS a blessing in disguise that the rain washed away the Fiji FACT games eight days ago.
"I was not fit at all and could not play in Nausori," revealed Suva football's golden boy Nathan Shivam after the Whites' stunning 1-0 win over Ba in the Vodafone-sponsored grand final at Govind Park yesterday.
He was down and out and totally shattered. Shivam even ended up going clubbing last weekend thinking there was no hope of playing at the tournament.
"The pain was too much," Shivam said of his knee injury.
This was confirmed by his victorious coach Gurjit Singh. "Shivam was out a week ago. He would not have played if the tournament continued at Ratu Cakobau Park."
Shivam, a school teacher at Sarawati College, Nausori, could not have dreamt that one week later, with the tournament delayed and shifted to the west, he'd recover a little and score the most famous Suva goal in the last 17 years.
"This is the goal of my life," said the 24-year-old. I just can't tell you how happy I am, especially for my friends, family, my team mates and the Suva football fans."
The central midfielder, playing with a heavily strapped right knee, pounced on a defensive blunder by Ba's Avinesh Waran Swamy to smash home a stupendous strike from just outside the penalty box giving the Whites their first tournament victory since 1995.
Some 5000 mainly Ba fans returned home disappointed but Ba coach Yogendra Dutt was gracious in defeat.