Marist 7s: Vunidawa youngsters claim two wins in opening day

Members of the Vunidawa rugby U21 sevens U21 team at the HFC Stadium yesterday. Picture: ATU RASEA

“Our brotherhood makes us stronger.”

These were the words of Vunidawa Redz under-21 team captain Ilimo Tora after his side won their first two pool games during the 47th Fiji Bitter Marist 7s at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva yesterday.

The team, based in Vunidawa, Cakaudrove, defeated Vueti Cakau 14-10 and overcame Navala 19-5.

Tora displayed good leadership qualities in directing plays and calling out phases in both games.

“Majority of the boys in the squad are from the same village, so we are very close to one another,” the 20-year-old said.

Tora shared the struggles his team faced in making their way to Viti Levu, as the club is still yet to find a sponsor.

“Since most of the boys are yaqona farmers, we had to harvest a few plants in order to fund our way here to Suva and buy our jerseys.”

Travelling all the way from Vanua Levu, the newly-formed club has had their fair shares of challenges and struggles in making sure they attend such competitions as these.

“Most of us do not work, but only plant yaqona, dalo and other vegetables to help our families. So before any rugby tournament, we get together and discuss ways in which we can get income to help us prepare.”

Vunidawa coach Tomasi Vidro says his players have made huge sacrifices to get to Suva.

“They all have farms and families where they have other responsibilities they need to attend to. But here they are sacrificing their livelihood just to play the sports they love.”

While preparing for rugby 7s tournaments, players depended on the sales of their yaqona and other fundraising activities hosted in the village.

“Luckily, we have very supportive people from our village, who help us carry out fundraising activities and the selling of the yaqona,” Vidro said.

Before sending his team on to the field in any rugby match, he reminds them of the struggles they have had to overcome to be able to play the sport they are passionate about.

“I just have to remind them of all the things they had to go through to be able to make it here. I also tell them that when they run out to the field, they represent their village, vanua and tikina.”

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