‘It’s the crowd that makes the difference’, football fever hits Labasa

THE playing atmosphere in Labasa is always different compared with playing in other grounds around the country.

Former national football goalkeeper and Rewa team assistant coach Tagi Vonolagi compared it with watching European Premier League (EPL) on television.

He said it was about how die-hard football fans could be so vocal and how every near misses and spot on goals were reciprocated with either a cheer or just booing to show disappointment.

“It’s the crowd that makes the difference and how far they are from the field of play,” he said.

“In other grounds in Fiji, there is quite a reasonable distance from them to the field, but in Labasa they are right next to us, so close that even if they whisper our names we could hear it,” Vonolagi said.

He said the crowd reaction was something that really livened up the atmosphere.

“These reactions could be taken in both ways for the players. It could be either positive or negative. If they learn to enjoy it and soak in the pressure then it would be great for them, but it could also pressure in some ways.”

Vonolagi said it was always memorable to play in Labasa.

He last played in Labasa, for the Labasa team in the 1997 Battle of the Giants tournament final against Nadi. They won 1-0 on that occasion.

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