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For the love of the sport

Avinesh Gopal
Saturday, April 26, 2014

HE loved the sport so much that he opted to leave the love of his life while nursing an injury in hospital.

The injury did not make his soccer career last long but telling his girlfriend of one year to leave him because of the injury did affect him emotionally.

And although he put his soccer boots aside more than four decades ago, Vivekanand Reddy says he can still play now but not for that long.

Reddy, who is 70 years old now, was commonly known as Boy Reddy during his soccer playing days in Nadi from 1962 to 1975.

During a recent trip to Togomasi in Nadi, Times Sport met the jovial and still fit former soccer player who was once part of a champion Nadi team.

He represented the Nadi under-21 soccer team in 1962 and was selected for the senior team in 1966, when he played his first game against Lautoka.

The events from his first game for the Nadi senior team until his "retirement" from the sport he loved are still fresh in his mind.

"We were losing my first game in the Nadi senior side against Lautoka by three goals to nil but we made a comeback and won by 4-3," said Reddy.

"I played right back, right link and centre back. I got injured in a game against Lautoka in 1967 when a Lautoka player kneed me."

Reddy said he had torn muscles and he was hospitalised for a few weeks, during which time his girlfriend went to visit him.

"I was about 22 years old then and we knew each other for about one year. I told her to get married to someone else because my life would be in and out of hospital."

Getting a bit emotional, Reddy said it was not easy for him to tell his girlfriend to get married to someone else because of his injury and other injuries that were expected to come.

"She got married and is living in Canada now and has children. I made a comeback to the soccer field in 1968 and we won the IDC in Labasa in 1969."

Reddy said Nadi lost to Ba in the IDC final in 1970 but won the coveted trophy the following year.

He continued playing for Nadi until 1975 when he decided to quit playing at that level and get married. He lives with his son while his daughter is married and living with her husband.

"I'm retired now and planting vegetables and other things for my living. Some iTaukei girls from nearby Dratabu Village do my housework and I'm enjoying my life now."

Going down memory lane, Reddy said there was a lot of discipline in players during his playing days, as everyone respected the coach and manager.

He said unlike now, players were not paid during his playing days and they had to take their own soccer boots for any game.

"My mother chased me from home most of the time because of soccer and I used to live at Namotomoto Village and play for the Nadi team. That was the spirit and district pride.

"There is no district pride now because players are moving from their districts to other places because of monetary benefits, which were not there before.

"But, I'm not in favour of the player transfer window because players no longer have the district pride left in them. It's all for money now," said Reddy.








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