Koi lays football challenge

THE Fiji under-19 football team has been issued a challenge by a former national men’s captain.

George Koi, former Suva and Rewa centre back, said, “If the Fijiana women’s 7s team can do it, why can’t our women football team be developed like our 7s rugby players.

“When Sashi Mahendra Singh, the father of Billy Singh (late and former coach) was hospitalised in Lautoka, I had the opportunity to visit him. One of the things he told me was when he would get out of the hospital, he was going to start women’s football in Fiji. It made me excited,” Koi, 68, said.

Koi captained the national side that defeated Australia 1-0 at Buckhurst Park in 1977 and also drew with Taiwan.

He has been living for 15 years in the US.

“Football runs through my blood and my first granddaughter, Katalaine Koi, attended an elementary school in the US. They have a girls’ football team. It is amazing how they start playing at the primary school level.

“The rugby 7s, both men and women, are in the limelight, so we need to turn our focus on our women’s football.

“This is women participating and they need to have a helping hand to guide them through because the whole world today is gender-based equality where women can play any sports.

“Fiji has escalated and has gone up the plateau going forward that excites me more is the Western influence has shifted in the country dramatically and has done a lot of changes. We need to keep up with those changes,” he said.

Koi was the coach of the Fiji army battalion football team that participated in the Force Commander Cup in 1985.

Fiji defeated Uruguay in the semi-finals and thrashed Netherlands 1-0 that shocked the whole UN Forces.

He was again called up by former Fiji Police commissioner, Isikia Savua to put up a team to play against the team called the Rest of the World where they had put up a team from different countries.

Fiji again managed to beat them 2-0, those were some untold memories on how our soccer players were in the 19 centuries.

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