Tributes Flow For Soccer Legend
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the late Percy Senavanua Kean (Snr) thought he was joking when he told them he had played football for Fiji.
But they realised he was telling the truth when a Fiji Football Association delegation paid its tribute during a reguregu presentation for him.
Mr Kean, 82, died on February 14 after a short illness and was buried at Suva Cemetery, Lovonilase, yesterday.
His children included Mary Bainimarama, wife of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, and Commander Francis Kean, Commissioner of Corrections and chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union board.
One of his grand daughters, Rubyanne Sorovaki talked about how her grandfather was always boasting about his exploits on the football field.
“We did not want to believe him until Tuesday evening when the Fiji Football Association came for their reguregu.”
Hundreds bid farewell to one of the country’s best footballers. He played as a goalkeeper for Fiji in the first South Pacific Games at the then Buckhurst Park, now ANZ Stadium, in 1963.
Families, friends, loved ones and people of different races and religions attended Mr Kean’s resurrection mass.
Tributes flowed about Mr Kean’s lifetime of humanitarian service and his sporting contributions to the country.
His long-time friend, who had known him for many years, Sir James Michael Ah Koy (KBE), said he was a private person.
“In my humble opinion, Percy was Fiji’s best goalkeeper which earned him a spot in the Suva side’s first eleven in every annual inter-district tournament,” he said.
Sir James said Percy, as he was commonly known, represented Fiji for a number of years playing against overseas teams.
Percy captained the China Club Senior Grade Soccer Team that won the Farebrother and Sullivan knockout tournament in 1958, 1964 and 1965.
“He learned to be a miner, an electrician, insurance salesman, a fisherman and even a baker,” Sir James said.
“I remember Percy as a strong family man who loved his wife and all his children and I am sure, his grandchildren as well, and he showed this by taking them all to watch soccer matches every Sunday,” he said.
Mr Kean is survived by eight children, 22 grandchildren and 18 great-grand children.