SPORTS

From the Highlands to the City

At 17, most girls are just leaving high school or deciding on what to do in the future. But for Salote Matakibau she has already made a name for herself
01 Sep 2014 07:55
From the Highlands to the City
Semi Kunatani.

At 17, most girls are just leaving high school or deciding on what to do in the future. But for Salote Matakibau she has already made a name for herself on the international stage.

Australian Football League (AFL) is a sport not many girls in Fiji know about or want to particpate in. But for Salote it is a sport she plans to take up.

Matakibau hails from the province of Namosi and got engaged in the sport when AFL Fiji visited her village in December.

Since then, she has actively pasrticipated in AFL competing in local competitions that were held in the capital city where the best were chosen to form a 28-member squad for both male and female to represent Fiji in the AFL International Cup 2014 (IC14) held in Melbourne, Australia earlier this month.

It was the first time for AFL Fiji to send a 28 member women’s team to the IC14 tournament and that is where she kick-started her AFL career.

The Fiji Vonu (women) competed against teams from Ireland, the United States, Tonga, Nauru, New Zealand, Canada, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Great Britain.

She was selected as the best halfback for the World Women’s Team where she was up against women who have been playing the sport for years.

She was picked along with Fiona Roarty of Ireland and Hilary Perry of Canada and said hearing her name being called out by AFL legend Kevin Sheedy was a memory she will never forget.

“I was really happy when I heard that I had been picked and it was such a huge accomplishment for me,” she said.

“I never dreamt that any of this could happen to me. I’m just so happy and I look forward to this new journey.

“It was my first time to go to Australia and I got the best player award for my position as half-back and I’m really happy with this.”

“I know this is the result of a lot of prayers and support from home and from my coaches and teammates and they are all happy with my selection in the world team.”

“There were a lot of new things I learned and experienced in Australia, in terms of skills. It was really hard but I managed.

“I learnt a lot about defence and team work.”

The one person who is proud of Salote is her mum, Sainimili Vakatuturagani, who said Salote’s achievement was a prayer answered by God.

“I’m very proud of her and her accomplishment in the sport and I’m happy that our support has helped her to achieve this. I thank the Lord for his blessings.

“I know that he answered our prayers.” she said.

She has signed a contract with the Australian women’s team and will travel back to Australia in December to honour her contract.

Feedback: justine.mannan@fijisun.com.fj




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