SPORTS

Rugby Blood

Dream big and always believe in yourself, says Fijian born- Japan rugby seven’s winger Kameli Raravou Soejima. The Nasekula native who is in country to visit his family said a
12 Feb 2017 11:00
Rugby Blood
(Second from left) Soejima Aya, (middle back) Eroni Latianara, (right) Kameli Soejima with his family in Nasekula Village. Photo: Josaia Ralago.

Dream big and always believe in yourself, says Fijian born- Japan rugby seven’s winger Kameli Raravou Soejima.

The Nasekula native who is in country to visit his family said a journey to success means lots of sacrifice and discipline especially in the field of sports.

“I had always wanted to be a professional rugby player while growing up. I was following the footsteps of some of the men in my family who were very influential in the establishing of this passion,” he said.

The 33-year-old winger’s dad, Eroni Latianara was a lock forward and represented the Fiji Minor Union side when they took on Samoa and Tonga in the mid-1970s. Latianara’s older brothers Meliki Baleicakau who was a hooker and flanker Emosi Tatawaqa played for the Flying Fijians. Baleicakau’s son Jope Tuikabe also represented the Fijian 7s team and was a member of the side that won the 1997 Sevens Rugby World Cup in Hong Kong. He later went on to don the Flying Fijian jumper as well.

Soejima said it was his first cousin Tuikabe who was his sporting idol.

“I always wanted to be like him while growing up. I guess if I had tried just a little bit harder then I would have made the national team too,” the father of four said.

Soejima said he started his career by playing for the village team- Nasekula Blues- slowly he made his way and played for the Labasa Police team then represented Macuata before moving to Suva to play for Red Rock.

His dream to adorn the national jumper took a turn when he married Soejima Aya in 2008, a physiotherapist who was a Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) volunteer at the Lautoka Hospital.

“We had met through my cousin, who was her best friend in 2007, and after our wedding I returned with my wife’s family to Japan and it was where I began playing rugby again.” Soejima said.

He said it was not until he was 30 before he started playing for the national team.

Soejima was known for scoring Japan’s winning try against New Zealand in last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He also played in the semi-final when they lost to eventual gold medal winners Fiji.

He said it was always an honour to play against Fiji. Soejima said, Fijian players posses a certain flair in their performance that sets them apart.

“But I would like to advice upcoming rugby players to never give up on their dream and to work towards it,” Soejima added.

He returns to Japan with his family this week.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: josaia.ralago@fijisun.com.fj



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