SEPTEMBER 21, 2013 is a day that will forever remain etched in the hearts of Fiji football players and fans.
Fijians started playing competitive football in the early 1920s. Most, or almost all, who brought and played 'the beautiful game' in those early days are no longer with us — may their souls rest in peace.
Players came and went but the game lives on. We may not be big on the international scene but we have had our bright moments like the two 1-0 wins over Australia (1977 and 1988).
However, nothing beats the ultimate prize coming home for the first time — the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
This is the trophy that over 250 million players in over 200 countries dream of. It's the world's most expensive trophy (made of 18 carat solid gold and weighing almost 7kg) in the world's most popular sport.
That's why yesterday, people from all walks of life came in droves to see and take pictures with the golden trophy.
They came from as early as 10am and kept coming until 5pm to witness and be part of the historic occasion.
They came in droves and went home satisfied. They were the first lot of Fijians to have gotten so close to the FIFA World Cup Trophy at home.
"This is a day to remember, a very special moment for all football lovers in this country," Lautoka FA president Shalendra Prasad said.
"This was a unique opportunity presented to us and it's so good to see the fans making the most of it. Vinaka Vakalevu Coca-Cola and FIFA for making this possible."
Thousands took photos with the trophy and thousand others were given access to view and take pictures of the trophy. 1998 World Cup winner Christian Karembeu mingled with the fans and young players and shared his knowledge of the game with them. It was a great day for everyone in the presence of the greatest trophy in world sport. The Coca-Cola slogan in the United States in 1974, when this trophy was first handed out at that year's world cup, was 'Look for the Real Things'.
The Fijian football public did just that. They came looking for football's 'real thing' and ended up getting a 'real deal' thanks to the soft drink giants and FIFA.