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Fiji Time: 6:31 PM on Thursday 24 April

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Sami's love for soccer

Manoj Kumar
Saturday, October 13, 2012

HE comes from a soccer crazy town and family. His dad played for Fiji, so did he and two of his brothers.

Vimal Sami was part of that historic 1-0 win over the Socceroos at Prince Charles Park, Nadi.

He represented Ba from 1984 to 1999 and won all the silverware on offer in local football.

He retired in 1999 after scoring the winning goal in Ba's 1-0 Battle of the Giants triumph over Tavua at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

Now 47, Sami still can't stay away from the game. Yesterday, he was at the Courts Inter District Championship to back his Men in Black.

He was the youngest of five brothers, four of whom played for Ba.

The eldest Narend, Kamal and Julie donned the black jersey.

"Narend started in Rewa and then came to Ba to play striker," Vimal said.

"We all played for Ba except for Sunil."

Julie and Vimal represented the country in the senior side while Kamal played for Fiji youth alongside Abdul Mannan.

Their father Meera Sami was a top Fiji and Ba rep.

Soccer runs in the family blood.

Vimal's son Narendra Rao is playing for Ba Sangam College at this tournament and has already featured for the Ba senior side too.

Julie's son Dennis Rao played for Tavua and Shamil Rao, who featured for Ba and Lautoka, is Sunil's son.

Vimal played with a lot of top players but picks his former team-mate Akuila Rova as the finest player of his time.

"He was a workaholic, a ball-hunter," Vimal recalls.

"He chased down every ball that came his way, even if the pass was going astray.

"Players hardly do that these days. They want the ball to be played straight to them.

"Players need to do overtime like Rova and most of us during our time.

By doing that you lift the morale and spirit of the team."

Sami featured in that Fiji team of '88 alongside big names like Nasoni Buli, Ivor Evans, Ravuama Madigi, Lote Delai and others.

He was a champion footballer and looks like his son Narend, who is named after his uncle, will follow suit. Nothing surprising about Ba people, it's all about football for them.