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Jack of all trades

Rashneel Kumar
Saturday, November 17, 2012

VILIAME Umu believes in hard work, discipline and perfection.

And it's no wonder at the age of 48, the Tubou, Lakeba, Lau native, continues to marvel fans with his distinguished snooker skills.

Arguably what Waisale Serevi is to rugby in Fiji, Umu, to some extent, is to snooker in the country.

The Suva City Council employee first took up the cue at a tender age of nine following regular trips to the snooker clubs with his father, Sateki Umu, who was a top snooker player in 1970s.

Viliame learnt the skills while watching Sateki playing with his mates at United Club in Suva and decided to try the sport himself in late 70s.

In 1983, he competitively started playing snooker and lost in the semi-finals to Lautoka's Suresh Chauhan in the Fiji Open — his first major tournament.

That loss was enough to inspire the young Viliame and in 1985, he won his first major title, the Fiji Open snooker competition.

"It was an overwhelming feeling. To win my first title against some of the best snooker players at a tender age was a big morale booster," the Bilolevu Club member said.

"I won many titles since then. The Fiji Open was last played in 1985 and revived in 2011, where I won again.

"I also won the national rankings and other tournaments held around the country."

Viliame also managed to represent the country at international events.

In 2003, he represented Fiji at the World Amateur Championship in China along with Ba's Joe Sue Lum. "I was the first iTaukei to represent Fiji in snooker at the world event. It was a big achievement for me," Viliame said.

"I was selected again in the national team in 2004 to compete at the similar event at Netherlands but pulled out due to financial constraints."

Regarded as one of the "coolest" players in the snooker circles, Viliame says enjoying the game while playing is the key to success in snooker.

"Playing guitar is my pasttime hobby. This helped me to keep my concentration despite the noise around me.

"For me, enjoying the game while playing is important than winning," the former Fiji Five band member said.

Viliame rates former Fiji number one Suman Lal and Chauhan as his toughest opponents.

He said they were the dominating figures during his heyday and equally good at the sport.

Viliame, who regards himself "Jack of all trades" after switching professions over the years, has been a successful coach guiding Kenwyn Lord and Mosese Nawaqakuta to the World Under-20 Championships in New Zealand in 2003.

"I have achieved a lot in snooker and my only goal is to help raise the standard of the sport in the country," Viliame said.

"We can produce better snooker players if we teach them the basics first before they play competitively."

Apart from snooker, Viliame is also a champion billiards player and one of the top darts players in the country.

Indeed, he is 'Jack of all trades', in sports as well.

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