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Bolabiu’s journey to the top

January 29
12:00 2011

image Written By : WAISEA MAKUTU. As a young boy James Bolabiu loves to beat others to the lali (the native Fijian wooden drum beaten with two sticks called iuaua) to beckon and marshal members of the local community or congregation for Christian gatherings.
And 25 years later he was doing the same but on a completely different stage with a smaller design controlling athletes twice his size and strength in the game of rugby. This is both local and international.
Nobody would have believed that somebody who did not take rugby seriously during his schooldays would grace renowned sporting arena around world.
“My father was a teacher and we experienced living in different environments and this taught me to survive and to accept situations and all that nature has to offer,” Bolabiu said.
He was born on May 25, 1983 at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.
“I hail from the i-Tokatoka Dakuiburelevu of the Mataqali Yakea in Waisomo Village, Tavuki on the island of Kadavu,” Bolabiu said.
“I was brought up in rural areas mostly up to my early teens.
“I was being cared for from my early days as a toddler until the age of three by an aunt at Ekubu Village in Vatulele.
“I still have fond memories of those early years following my aunt around fetching fresh water since the necessity was scarce and watching her catch the rare red prawns that exist on the island,” Bolabiu recalled.
At the age of four, his mom requested his return when the family received their new teaching posting to Mau Government School.
It was here that he started his education at class one.
The next three years were spent at my home island as I attended Nabukelevu Primary School.
“I spent my second last year of primary schooling with the children of prison wardens when dad was posted to the Naboro Primary School,” he shared in an exciting tone.
“However, class eight was even more exciting at Nakavu Fijian School in Namosi especially the pig hunting and other wild adventures into the rugged landscapes and bushes in the area,” he added.
“The only means available to access this new destination was on a horseback crossing rivers, thick terrains and tricky terraces. Those standards of living have taught me to be mean and not spend heavily even when I have been around the city life for quite a while.
“At times I would harvest some soga or sago (the inner part of the stem of a kind of palm tree used by the ethnic Indian community for food) and sell them at the road side for pocket money, he added.
The family then moved to Levuka and he was enrolled at the Levuka Public School.
There he took up hockey seriously.
He was the smallest and was always belittled and intimidated by those around him but some would give him respect for his prowess in the sprints when in comes to athletics.
During his turn for the morning talk in Form Four he told the class that they would watch him on TV playing for the country in rugby sevens at Hong Kong.
He only did it to get on par with the others yet they ridiculed him saying that he may be a trash collector instead.
He represented the school in athletics during the Fiji Finals and competed in the long jump and 200 metres where he was placed fourth.
The family moved back to Navua where he tackled his last academic year of college at Vashist Muni Memorial College and picked up soccer and a little rugby.
Upon leaving school he started playing rugby for the Namelimeli Rugby Club. During one of the matches he was competing hard to reach the ball which was in the goal area. As a defender I managed to kick the ball out of play but the referee had thought otherwise and awarded the try to the opposing player.
“I had protested the decision and copped a yellow card.
“Then I reminded him of his location on the field and would not have observed right to make the decision and that was when the red card was flashed at me,” he said.
It was one of the deciding moments to be in-charge and give a fair jurisdiction because the decision back then really hurts and had let him down.
“I also took up refereeing to be familiar and well versed with the laws but what had followed was no part of my dream because all I did was just trying to be fair,” the Nacolase man further added.
The attitude to be fair in judgment was part of his character and he would like to do all things to the best of his ability and loves to make mum happy. He completely detests dishonesty and would like to remain humble and maintain his cool at all times.
“My favourite colours are white and blue and would love all that is edible but a lovo dish will be preferred over the rest.”
His first choice for wear is Nike from top to bottom with the brand’s sneaker to step on the clutches of a Toyota Yaris, which is his best ride.
Past times and leisure is centered around both aerobic and non-aerobic activities, swimming, socialising, movies and walking on the beach.
“My favourite television programme is Smallville with similar interest for the big screen comedy The God’s Must Be Crazy.
My best actor is Denzel Washington and the feminine counterpart Angelina Jolie as best actress.
“I would not be bored listening to entertaining artists especially Lucky Dube and Celine Dion and to complete the list he named Talemo Waqa the Fiji Rugby Union High Performance Unit general manager as his favourite personality.”
He has taken a break from his law studies to put into use the skills and experience in the progressive developments to elevate the standard of rugby union in the country.
“My favourite quote for advise is “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” by the late thirty-fifth president of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.”
When it comes to motivational and influencing perspectives he looks up to famous deaf and blind activist, Helen Keller who said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
He is a devout Methodist and still awaiting that beautiful moment when the fast life will come to a stand still to settle with Miss Right.

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