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The sick boy

Manoj Kumar
Monday, June 24, 2013

IN June 1996, a few weeks before Nadi played at the Battle of the Giants, a two year-old boy was hospitalised and his dad had to leave camp and be by his bedside.

Watisoni Voli was brought in on the opening day of the tournament. He played well throughout that meet and scored two goals in the 3-1 grand final win over Tavua at Govind Park. That was for his sick baby.

That baby was Rusiate Matarerega. Yesterday, at Prince Charles Park it was time for the son to make his dad proud.

Matarerega hit two goals to end Nadi's 11-year winless streak at Prince Charles Park as the Jack's Fiji-sponsored Jet-setters smashed Ba 3-1 in the final of the Vodafone Fiji FACT.

"I know about that story," an elated Matarerega said yesterday when asked if he knew about the 1996 event.

"Mum and dad told me about it. They said I had damaged my ribs, I was only two then and was hospitalised."

When Matarerega netted Nadi's second goal, Voli proudly jumped around in the beer parlour with a can in one hand and pointing to some Nadi fans.

"Hamar ladka hein, hamar ladka goal banais (That's my son, my son scored the goal)," he screamed as the home fans came alive as Nadi led 2-1 midway through the second spell.

Matarerega opened the scoring when Jone Ralulu spilled what looked like a routine save from an Isoa Ratuva's attempt. Following up was Matarerega and he blasted the ball onto the roof of the net in the 14th minute.

Avinesh Waran Swamy curled the ball over Beniamino Matainaqara to make it 1-1 at half-time.

Napolioni Qasevakatini, whose elder brother Alipate Driu also featured in that 1996 BOG final, challenged Ralulu in an aerial ball, Ralulu lost the ball again and there was Matarerega to score his and Nadi's second.

Substitute Malakai Rakula scored the third goal a minute from the end as Nadi reigned and cashed in on $15,000 in front of some 4500 fans.

Straight away a $15,000 donation came from Nadi-based businessman Ashwin Sharma.

"That's $30,000 and all of it will be shared by the team," jubilant Nadi president Navneenda Goundar said.

He thanked major sponsor Jack's, Shop and Save and other business firms for their support. Goundar was president when Nadi last won a tournament, the 2002 IDC.

He resigned and Nadi were winless. He's back and they won on their first attempt. That's Nadi's second FACT win following the 1996 triumph at home.

Ba coach Yogendra Dutt was gracious in defeat. "It was a tense match. Nadi had to play for something because they had not won for a long time," Dutt said.

"Nadi had the advantage playing on their home ground. Congratulations to them.

"We made mistakes and Nadi capitalised on that."

Nadi mentor Kamal Swamy said discipline won them the tournament.

"These boys listen to what I tell them, that's the key.

"That shows they are learning something and when you play with your heart, the result will come your way, that's what happened today (yesterday)," Swamy said.

Nadi: Benaminio Mateinaqara, William Valentine, Rusiate Matarerega, Munit Krishna, Uraia Loki, Ame Votoniu, Lekima Gonerau, Napolioni Qasevakatini, Amani Makoe, Eliki Ravosai, Isoa Ratuva.

Ba: Jone Ralulu, Avinesh Suwamy, Meli Codro, Jone Vesikula, Tuimasi Manuca, Abbu Zahid, Sanni Issa, Remuere Tekiate, Malakai Tiwa, Laisenia Naioko, Marika Madigi.

Referee: Rakesh Varman.

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