TEARS of joy flowed down the cheeks of Vikaili Rabale when she first saw the picture of her eldest son and Vodafone Fiji 7s wonder boy Samisoni Viriviri with the 2013/2014 IRB 7s Player of the Year award at their Dratabu home in Nadi yesterday.
The 44-year-old mother said she was emotional at her son's achievements, particularly considering the obstacles and challenges endured by the family along the way. From humble beginnings in a bure 26 years ago, Viriviri reached the pinnacle of his rugby career when he was named the world's best 7s player this season, becoming the first Fiji 7s rep to win the award.
Rabale said she never imagined her son would achieve so much knowing the hardships and struggles they faced as a family during Virviri's early days.
She said her son had lifted the image of the family from their humble beginnings 20 years ago.
"Sami was still in primary school when I was separated from my husband," she said.
"I faced many challenges raising Sami, we faced financial hardships and at times we hardly had enough to eat.
"We went through hard times, it was not easy. I am a single parent of eight children of whom Sami is the eldest.
"I always told Sami we have only one father who is close to us and that is our almighty God - he will give us what your father could not.
"I never believed Sami would come this far and I thank our good Lord for blessing my family."
Rabale said she could not ask for a better Mother's Day present than her son's rugby award.
"I broke down in tears when he told me the award was his Mother's Day present to me.
"I was lost for words yesterday when I heard the good news."
Rabale said her son was not good at school and had always wanted to become a national rugby rep.
She said Viriviri never completed his education because of his love for rugby. She said the speedster trained almost every day while in the village "and I believe his hard work enabled him to fulfil his ultimate goal".
"Sometimes he would look up at an Air Pacific plane in the sky he would tell us, 'One day I will ride in that plane'.
"He is a good listener and in the village, all he does is train."
Rabale said hard work, commitment and sacrifice were the contributing factors towards Viriviri's achievements.
She said rugby and hard work enabled Viriviri to secure employment with the Fiji Police Force.
"And he never fails to send us money on his paydays. Even when he's on tour with the 7s team, he always leaves his bank card with me to use for the family.
"I am honoured to witness that from humble beginnings my son's achievements have made the family proud."
Rabale also dedicated the achievement to her uncle Soko Viriviri (brother of former national rep Samisoni Viriviri) who has been a fatherly figure to the family for the past 20 years.