Rugby World Cup 2023 | SPORTS

Sitiveni Mata: From Crime Prone Settlement, to Scotland, to the World Cup

“I thank God for His provisions, no matter how bad your community is tagged, if God has a purpose for you, He will take you through,” Sitiveni said.
27 Sep 2023 15:11
Sitiveni Mata: From Crime Prone Settlement, to Scotland, to the World Cup
Sitiveni Mata and his wife Aliti with the photos of the son Viliame Mata at Nadonumai in Lami on September 26, 2023.

Rugby World Cup Flying Fijians No.8 Viliame Sevakadrau Mata’s rugby prowess is injecting a lot of positives to the Nadonumai settlement.

Unwavering family support has been the backbone of Mata’s success starting from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games gold medal win followed by his contract with top European club Edinburgh in Scotland, where he is now into his seventh year and played 116 top class matches.

His father, Sitiveni Mata, a retired soldier yesterday admitted that raising a family in Nadonumai, Lami, was not easy.

“I thank God for His provisions, no matter how bad your community is tagged, if God has a purpose for you, He will take you through,” Sitiveni said.

“It depends on us parents, how committed we are and how we stay together as a family,” he said.

“Putting God first in everything because only God can change things and make the impossible possible


The father of four from Nauluvatu, Nakelo in Tailevu said everything start from home; having rugby in his youngest child’s veins is no surprise.

To have a Flying Fijian ascending from such community is all God’s plan.

Mata has maternal links to Nasama, Nasigatoka, Nadroga and is a close relative of fellow RWC Flying Fijian speedster Vinaya Habosi and ex- Flying Fijian centre Napolioni Nalaga.

“He is fondly called Qase because he is named after three elders,” Sitiveni said.

“Vili grew up at a time when Nadonumai was well-known for all the bad things,” Sitiveni recalled.

“No taxi drivers would want to drop you here after 6pm because of the illegal activities back then. It has improved now.”

Mata attended Assemblies of God Primary School then Suva Grammar School and a year at Ratu Kadavulevu School for vocational studies.

He suffered from asthma while at primary school.

Flying Fijians No.8 Viliame Sevakadrau Mata. Photo: FRU Media

“I went to watch one of the Milo Kaji games and students were cheering for ‘Steeler’, it was the nickname they gave him when he played, if only they knew that Steeler was asthmatic,” Sitiveni shared with a laugh.

“God changes circumstances; he was prayed over by a pastor and that was the end of his asthma.

“I always stressed two things to our children – excel in your studies and honour your relationship with God.

“Vili is quiet; he only speaks when he is spoken to. When he does things, he makes make sure he does it well.”

After RKS, he enrolled at Fiji National University (FNU) and played rugby league with Lami Steelers.

Then one of his cousins from Nasama took him to play at the Coral Coast Sevens, where he played for (two clubs) Hideaway and Coastline. He caught the attention of then Fijian sevens head coach Ben Ryan.

Ryan had often commended Mata’s line-break statistics and error rate as probably the best in his sevens squad.

“I advised him to listen and follow whatever was required of him at camp (rugby).

“Try and change the reputation of Nadonumai and how people view this settlement,” Sitiveni said.


A late starter in rugby, Mata was part of the SGS Under-14 to U17 teams, but warmed the bench most times.

“He would return home and complain that he sat on the bench. He would still turn up for training.

“It was in RKS that he played in the U19 Deans Trophy competition and was always in the first line-up.”

RKS lost to Lelean Memorial School in the last U19 Deans Trophy final in 2010.

“I was happy when he was named for the RWC side this year and I thank head coach Simon Raiwalui for taking them to Taveuni to remind them of their humble beginnings,” Sitiveni said.

“Most athletes when they’re successful do not look back to acknowledge where they started.


“We talk regularly and I always message him before every match to remind him that they’re carrying the hopes of our nation.

“I am confident they will get through their pool into the quarterfinals.

“I advise parents to support your children in whatever they do; have faith in God and do what you say so your children will follow your example.”

Mata started at No.8 for the two Pool C matches against Wales and Australia. He had debuted for the Fiji sevens team at the 2014 Wellington Sevens as a replacement for Pio Tuwai.

Mata made his debut for the Flying Fijians on June 10, 2017 in a Test match against Australia.



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