FIJI Rugby Union's top referee James Bolabiu was taken by surprise when food vendors mobbed him at the Labasa Food Stall yesterday morning.
Bolabiu is in Labasa to conduct a clinic for referees today and also to officiate during the Skipper Cup match between Suva and Macuata tomorrow.
An excited Bolabiu said he didn't expect such a warm welcome from the vendors yet labelled it as a good feeling.
"I am so happy to be recognised by these women. I didn't expect them to cheerfully embrace me but it's good to know that there are mothers out there who are supporting my career," he said.
"At least this is an opportunity for me to come and meet and mingle with the women.
"I am so glad and I know that this kind of support encourages me to do my job well locally and internationally as well.
"Its good to know that we have mothers like this who cheer us on when we officiate at local and international levels and I thank the women for their hospitality," Bolabiu said.
Food Vendors Association President Diwaqa Lakolako said they were fortunate to have seen Bolabiu in person.
"He just came to buy food and when we saw him, we all wanted to shake hands and meet him in person," she said.
"We only see him on television and today, we had the opportunity to mingle with him face to face.
"We are really appreciative of the opportunity," Lakolako said.