Island News

Mannan recalls hey-days

Written By : MELA TUILEVUKA. While many of us exceed academically and sit in our air conditioned offices others may excel in other areas. One such person is former soccer
13 Sep 2008 12:00

image Written By : MELA TUILEVUKA. While many of us exceed academically and sit in our air conditioned offices others may excel in other areas.
One such person is former soccer national rep Abdul Mannan who has excelled in the sport that has taken him to all parts of the world and back.
Abdul Mannan who is the Sports Coordinator at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Sports Centre, can be seen as the Waisale Serevi of soccer as he has achieved a lot during his hey-days.
The down-to-earth and very humble Taveuni gentleman started out his career in soccer in 1977 representing DAV Boys College.
This soccer legend first represented our country in 1979 during the South Pacific Games as captain.
This is an achievement no other young soccer player today has matched. When asked about his experience as a young captain at the time, the very humble man said it was a challenge having to lead a team of players who were his seniors.
“For me, I just played my heart out on the field and my I guess my performance spoke volumes on the field rather than off the field,” Mannan said.
While in Fiji, Mannan represented district teams such as Rewa and Nasinu and was lucky enough to have played in various clubs abroad namely ACT Canberra State in Australia, All Blacks Soccer Club in San Francisco, USA to name a few.
His soccer career was not easy as he had to sacrifice a lot of time away from his family.
“I missed the birth of my two children but I made it a point to make time for them as they were growing up,” Mannan said.
Ironically, Mannan’s youngest son has totally taken a different path from his legendary father as he plays rugby at the University of the South Pacific.
Mannan does not mind what sport his son plays just as long as he plays his heart out for the sport and enjoys it.
When asked what was the most memorable time in his soccer career, Mannan said it was in 1979 during the South Pacific Games in Noumea when they played the finals with Tahiti.
“Fiji had not won a medal in soccer during the SPG Games at the time and we had intended to go out there and win,” he said.
“Both teams had yet to score at full time and they had to go into extra time which Mannan said he had successfully defended a goal when an opponent from Tahiti kicked a penalty and it hit his knee before the ball flew past him and through the net,” he said.
“It was an emotional time for me as well as challenging because we wanted so much to win this game and be the first national soccer team to secure a medal during the SPG Games.”
Mannan added all that is water under the bridge because in any sport, the winner takes it all and the loser has to fall.



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