INSPIRED by his humble upbringing, Fijian rugby league sensational Akuila Uate is living his childhood dream he promised his mother 15 years ago during a Sunday family lunch at Votua Village in Nadroga.
The flying Fijian was at his usual best in Saturday night's NRL preliminary finals, scoring a breathtaking try by beating Melbourne Storm ace fullback Bill Slater to help his team win the game.
It was in 1998, the family was having coconut, cassava and tea for lunch when the youngest member of the family made his promise.
According to his mother Loami Kula, the humble upbringing inspired Uate to become a successful sportsperson.
She said she never imagined that her son would make it big-time in rugby league.
"Life those days were really difficult for me, having to support and raise my five children after parting ways with my husband," said Kula.
"At times, we usually had tea and cassava for Sunday lunch.
"I can vividly remember on one occasion, we had nothing to eat on Sunday so I just broke a coconut put some salt in a plate and cassava and had lunch with my children.
"My main priority was to give my children the best education support they deserved."
Kula said she never failed in paying the school fees. Unfortunately, Uate was not interested school.
"Uate was not good in the classroom, he just loved rugby," she said.
"I always forced him to study but little did I know that the Almighty God had a different calling for my son.
"A calling that would change our lives forever."
"From the coconut, cassava and tea, I am happy that my son is living his dream — making me happy through his rugby achievements."
And while many were glued to their TV sets watching Uate and his Newcastle team defeat defending champion Melbourne Storm, Uate's number one fan was already sleep.
She said she couldn't stand seeing her son in action, fearing the big tackles and the chances of him getting injured.
"But I love reading about him in newspapers and hearing stories from my relatives regarding his games.
"Last night (Saturday), I could hear villagers shouting and cheering for Aku (Uate) but I just lay in my bedroom praying for him."
Kula also confirmed that Uate was originally from Nasaqalau, Lakeba, Lau, but was brought up in Votua, Nadroga.
"He always wanted to be known as a Votua, Nadroga, boy," she added.
Uate's Newcastle team will face Sonny Bill Williams Roosters next week.