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Makarita Targets French Spot

My dad didn’t get a chance to play at the RWC and this has motivated me to try and do better and represent France at the RWC- Baleinadogo
25 May 2020 14:02
Makarita Targets French Spot
Makarita Baleinadogo.

Makarita Baleinadogo aims to be the first Fijian woman to represent France at the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

She wants to be better than her dad who played for Fiji but not at the RWC.

“My dad didn’t get a chance to play at the RWC and this has motivated me to try and do better and represent France at the RWC,” Makarita said.

The daughter of former Flying Fijians centre Dan Baleinadogo made the comment from their Auvergne Rhone-Alpes home in France yesterday.

At 18 years, the Burelevu, Tailevu native has set her target on following the footsteps of fellow Fijians Virimi Vakatawa, Noa Naikataci and Tavite Veredamu on representing France.

“I grew up watching my dad playing rugby,” she said.

“I never nearly missed his games. My dad didn’t get a chance to play at RWC and I want to do better.

“And at the same time continue to excel in my studies in linguistics and eventually become a language teacher.

“The highest level I’ve reached so far is being selected to be part of the FFR Pôle-Feminin, the French rugby academy and one of the French top 100 U18 rugby girls, two years in a row in 2019, 2020. In this case I believe I’m the first Fijian.

“It’s also about my brothers as they look up to me. I hope to be a good role model for them and inspire our young Fijian girls, that they can play any sport they want, anywhere in the world, if they put their heart into it and have faith in God.

“I’ve just been selected to join the FFR Pôle-Feminins, where the next hopefuls for the French women’s rugby team are closely monitored and developed. I’ve also been selected to play for the FCG Amazone senior team which I’ll be joining in July. All this would not be happening if not for God and my family’s support.

“Other than that I’ve been representing our regional and provincial U18 teams for both 15s and 7s rugby.

“In 2019 I was honored to represent our regional U18, AURA (Auvergne Rhone-Alpes) participate in a national U18 Girls 7s competition, which we won twice.

“I’ve been playing since 2015 and it started in a town called Macon, where my dad was also playing during his prime. So for nearly five years now I’ve been playing rugby. Otherwise before that,I play with my dad and brothers at home.

Convincing Dad

“Since we arrived in France in 2010, when I was eight years old, I had been asking and begging my dad to play rugby but he just didn’t allow me. I understand him, since I’m his only daughter and the last thing he would want is for me to get hurt. I sometimes cry to my mum to convince my dad.

“Finally after nearly 4 years of trying, he said yes. I never looked back after that.”

Baleinadogo would have loved to play for the Fijiana team but holds France close at heart.

“France is now my home so my next big goal right now is to be the first Fijian woman to play for France,” she said.

“In 2018 I was selected to join the French Rugby Academy which qualified me for a two-year scholarship to attend a boarding secondary school far from home, where I could continue my studies and also focus on my rugby. In the two years I played for the U18 FCG Amazones.

“Fiji is rich with skills and passion but France is more advanced as they play against international teams more often.

“Women’s rugby clubs are well organized here in France and the girls are well looked after. We have our own doctors, physiotherapists, masseurs, counsellors, nurses, coaches etc. We travel to games in our own buses and stay in hotels. Girls can play competitive rugby from as young as five years old by joining any club.

Lockdown

“It was one of the saddest days for me when we went into lockdown due to the COVID -19 pandemic because my last season with my U18 FCG team had to abruptly come to end.

“We were aiming to win the national championship this year. I also had to continue doing a lot of personal training at home. I am lucky to have my brothers who joined me during training. Because I am part of the French Rugby Academy, our trainer also trained us online every day, for 30 minutes per session.

I am a boarder in a secondary school which is scheduled to reopen in June. But our hostels and restaurants might stay closed. If this is so, then I might never return to class until the next school year which begins in September. Lockdown wasn’t so bad. I had fun with my brothers.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: simione.haravanua@fijisun.com.fj

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