WHILE the country prepares to celebrate Fiji Day and government urges everyone to unite for Fiji, an athletics coach/trainer is in Australia doing his bit to help improve the youths of our country.
Rafaele Tunaulu is a name the vast majority will not readily identify with.
To those, especially students, who in years recent past, converged at the National Stadium for off-season athletics preparations, Rafa was a constant during their training.
His involvement in track and field coaching came about a few years back as a result of regular yaqona-drinking sessions between friends then living in the Nasinu suburb of Laucala Beach Estate.
The idea was mooted, and after some persuasion Rafa agreed to help out with the sprinters of Marist Brothers' High School.
Before long, Rafa was a regular sight at the National Stadium tracks helping Bola Tafo'ou after the Marist athletes had left.
Despite it being a non-paying job, it held a special appeal for Rafa who once had run on the very same tracks in 1995 along with the likes of Vuniani Sovau, Aliposo Cokanalagi, Dan Sovatabua, Eseroma Hazelman and Isaac Mow.
The persistence and diligent work of the Dogotuki, Macuata man with students from all schools, both primary and secondary, had not gone unnoticed.
In 2009 he was chosen to go to the Gold Coast, Australia for his Level II International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) coaching certificate. At a fun day at Veiuto Primary School back then, I asked Albert Miller, how they had decided upon Rafa.
Albert said something to the effect that, Rafa was always at the stadium, rain or shine. Such is his commitment to those who want to help themselves through sports.
Upon returning in 2009, he helped the Marist volleyball team to an unbeaten stretch for eight months.
He also had a hand in the success of the Veiyasana netball team's success last year.
There was also some involvement with the Marist Rugby Club and primary schools athletics.
Being consistent in his commitment to something he is really passionate about, he has just completed his Level IV certificate, again at the Gold Coast, and is holidaying in Canberra.
And like any other achievement, Rafa has had to put in the hard work and sacrifices.
At 5am he has to be wherever he is needed be it at the gym or at the tracks for the morning workouts. And at 3pm it's again time to help whoever needs help to become a better athlete.
For a person who loves his yaqona and family, the demands of the job meaning less time for both, are something one has to bear so that others may be better or even achieve what they aspire for.
And Rafa realises being sent for his Level IV certificate is not his own doing. And so he would like to thank his family, especially his mother Bibiana Tunalu, Rt Jo Tabakaucoro, Tafo'ou, Miller and many others who in one way or another have helped him along the way.