SPORTS

Laite No.8 For Japan

  While the Fijian XV failed to qualify for the 2017 Women’s World Cup in Ireland, there is hope a female Fijian who will, for the first time, play at
18 Dec 2016 11:00
Laite No.8 For Japan
Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave on the charge for Japan against the Fijiana XV in the 2017 Women Rugby World Cup qualifier in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Photo: HKRFU

 

While the Fijian XV failed to qualify for the 2017 Women’s World Cup in Ireland, there is hope a female Fijian who will, for the first time, play at such an event.

Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave or ‘Laite’ as she is commonly known is currently playing for the Japan women’s team who have qualified for the Women’s Rugby World Cup for the first time in 23 years.

The 32-year-old from Lamini, Somosomo in Taveuni started playing for the Japan XV team in late 2011 which was also the first time she had ever taken up the sport.

She played for the Phoenix Rugby Club and is now with ARUKAS which is a local club in Tokyo and has been scouted to play for the Japan XV team.

Playing rugby abroad is a still a learning curve for Bogidraumainadave but what she has achieved in the last six years has been a challenge for her.

While she has ticked all the relevant boxes of small goals she has set for herself, her new challenge now is to make it into the final squad for the World Cup next year.

“(It has been) quiet challenging! Different culture, custom and of course the language,” Bogidraumainadave said.

“I believe understanding the culture first made me conscious of the need to master the language, which is usually the common language when playing as a team.

“Then little by little, gradually one masters it naturally. Tick one challenge is done, then comes understanding how they play, the rules, etc. Every day is a learning day I must say.

“In addition, the greatest experience ever was when we won the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship in 2015 and working hard towards qualifying for the World Cup; target achieved.

“However, now we must work hard towards that and for me to maintain such needed fitness and health to be recruited again for the WC.”

If Bogidraumainadave is selected in Japan’s XV final squad for the WC, she will be the first female Fijian to play at a World Cup event, an opportunity which she is honoured to have,

“I am excited and honoured to represent a country which I now call my “second home” and very honoured indeed (that I may be the first female Fijian to play at the WC).

“No matter where I am, I am still a Fijian and will always be proud of that.”

Despite her age being just a number, Bogidraumainadave will do her best to up her fitness levels and skill to be included in the final squad.

Going to Hong Kong to play against her country of birth in the Asia/Oceania Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 qualification tournament was a nerve wrecking experience for Bogidraumainadave. She was in devastating form in the 55-0 thumping in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

“I was nervous at first, but also excited. I remember telling my friends back in Japan that I am going to play against my country,” she said.

“However, I’ve been travelling the world and playing with the same Japanese team, thus get to understand that I will just have to play the usual.

“This time, a little extra effort was put in because I was playing against the Fiji XV team. My sister, Losalini Saravaki used to play for Fijiana XV team until 2005, and I’ve learned a lot from her as well.

“I believe we are all goodwill ambassadors in our own different ways. You see many Fijians are playing professional rugby and representing their country of residence nowadays.

“Whether we live in Fiji or in overseas, we tend to represent our country as well. And by representing, we are further strengthening ties between our country and country of residence, i.e. through sports, culture, education and every aspect of exchanges one can think of.”

Being where she is today would not have been possible without her family and those who have supported her throughout her journey not only as a rugby player but living in another country she now calls her second home.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Almighty Father for bringing me this far; to my mother Mariana Vereivalu, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and family and Josifini Keksdadt and family.

“My families and friends in Fiji for their prayers and kind thoughts, it is much appreciated. Also, to my fans, families and friends in Japan and throughout the world.

“I must also extend a big “vinaka vakalevu” to the Fiji Embassy in Tokyo, Isikeli Mataitoga and his staff and families, for their commitment, continued support and assistance in promoting Fiji in Japan.

“And to Fiji community members in Japan; thank you for always coming out to support me and my team.”

 

 

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