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Born to play cricket

Arin Kumar
Sunday, December 23, 2012

SIXTY-SEVEN-year-old Seci Sekinini still vividly remembers the day he first laid eyes on a cricket ball and bat.

"I was three years old in my village in Nasau, Moce in Lau," he said.

"The first sporting equipment I can remember in the house was cricket bats and balls."

From the moment he picked up the bat and ball there was no looking back.

Sekinini went on to become a national rep and vice captain of the national team later on.

But it was the journey to becoming a national rep that was a tough one for Sekinini.

Educated at the Saint Columbus Primary School and Lelean Memorial School, he played rugby as his first choice but also found time for cricket.

It was not until 1974 when he toured India with the Samabula Cricket Club that he started to fully concentrate on the bat and ball again.

"Rugby took control of me after high school and I played rugby during the rugby season and cricket during the cricket season until 1974.

"In 1974 I hung up my rugby boots and focused entirely on cricket.

"I never looked back after that tour and loved cricket from then on."

It took him a few years to get his big break but he said the wait was worth it.

"I took part in the trials for the national side's tour to Papua New Guinea in 1975 but missed out on selection.

"I finally made the national side in 1977 for the tour of New Zealand and that was in December 1977 and January 1978.

He made his official debut for the national side at the International Cricket Council Trophy tour to England in 1979.

"It was the first time Fiji entered the world cricket arena and back then, it was not easy to get into the national side.

"Back then we had the passion for the game and tours overseas took place like once every few years.

"That's the difference in the sport now compared to back then, there is no passion left for the games and tours take place more often and it just considered a mere trip overseas."

Sekinini also participated in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups in England and continued his playing career until 1994.

But in 1990 he had already started coaching as well so that he could disseminate the knowledge he had learnt in his playing days.

"I coached the national team to Holland in 1990, to Nairobi, Kenya in 1994 and Malaysia in 1997."

He said his biggest achievement in all those years was winning the inaugural Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) Coach of the Year Award in 1990.

"They introduced the award in 1990 and I was lucky to be the first recipient of the award.

"I believe that is my biggest achievement of my career, getting recognised for my efforts in the sport."

Since then, Sekinini has retired from coaching and concentrates mainly on development work.

One particular point he singled out was that nowadays more players originally from the islands are making it big on the national and international scene compared to the players from the mainland.

He said it was mainly players from the Lau Group that are becoming stars of the sport today.

"I think the difference between the mainland players and the island players is the continuity in the sport.

"In most of the islands like Moce there is no choice but cricket.

"There used to be other sport but now its only cricket as we believe this sport will take us to the national level.

"Players in the islands get introduced to the sport at a very young age and they grow with it."

Sekinini said children and players in the mainland have to be taught the sport using easier methods but on the islands, it the real deal.

"There is no modified ball and bat on the islands.

"It's the normal hard ball and bat that we used for our competitions.

"The children on the islands are not afraid of using the hard balls and bats and that is why they become so good at the sport," he said.

Having come this far, Sekinini looks back at his hey days and said that if he were to live his life again, he would have it just the way it has turned out to be.

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