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Editorial: IDC victory icing on the cake for the Men in Blue

Design Engineering Lautoka’s sweet victory in the Courts IDC final against Ba was the icing on the cake for a great year for the Men in Blue. Following their National
17 Oct 2017 14:47
Editorial: IDC victory icing on the cake for the Men in Blue
Lautoka football captain Ilaitia Tuilau (left) and Valerio Nawatu holds the Courts IDC Trophy as they are joined by officials and fans at Churchill Park, Lautoka on October 15, 2017. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Design Engineering Lautoka’s sweet victory in the Courts IDC final against Ba was the icing on the cake for a great year for the Men in Blue.

Following their National League win when they were unbeaten throughout the season, and hosting the IDC on home soil, surely the pressure was on them to perform and win the Cup.

Many thought, after the pool games were completed, that Lautoka could probably make it to the final but if Ba were to be their opponent, then there was no way Lautoka could win.

The reason was that Ba had had a terrific build-up through their pool matches and after humiliating Suva 5-0 in the semifinal, who were Lautoka to stop them winning?

Lautoka coach Kamal Swamy was not worried as he had gauged that Lautoka’s performance prior to the final was such that other teams that played them were giving more than 100 per cent effort, just to topple the league champions.

The final had its drama with three red cards, a drawn match after the end of extra time and the most crucial change, the bringing in of Senirusi Bokini.

The Police officer was included in the Lautoka squad and only joined on the week before the IDC, after the Fiji Police Force released him. He did not play a game during the whole championships before his call-up to replace the first choice goalie.

That reliance and confidence the association, especially association president Abdul Kadar and Swamy had in Bokini’s abilities paid off and the rest is history.

Lautoka first won the IDC in 1941, when they beat Ba 2-1 in Ba. They have since won the trophy 17 times, including this year, since its inception in 1938.

Their last win was in 2008 in Ba where they beat Ba 1-0.

Lautoka’s sudden rise, which has earned a lot of respect from the public and within Fiji FA has been put down to the administration of the association.

Kadar was awarded Administrator of the Year last year by Fiji FA and through his leadership and style of running an association, major sponsors were now backing the sugar city side.

Design Engineering directors, brothers Abdul and Robin Rafiq, who have always been behind Lautoka came out big before the IDC and said they were doing this because of how the association was being managed.

Oceania Waters, Singh’s Rentals, GM Machinery, Chovan’s Pharmacy, Technicool and Global Cleaning are some of the big names that are now Lautoka’s main financiers.

Already they have a New Zealand sponsor for their participation in the Pacific Cup to be held in New Zealand on November 22.

Lautoka are also blessed to have a wives/girlfriends and supporters club. Every month they meet to fund-raise and the funds collected are used to help the players in dire need of financial help.

The combined confidence in their reps from the administrators down to the fan club was a great example.

It is a lesson to other districts on how they could entice sponsors to back their teams.

For the moment, Lautoka are basking in glory and the parties continued till the wee hours of yesterday morning.

The players are set to share $44,000 for their efforts and this is unprecedented.

As they prepare for the Pacific Cup, Lautoka fans will always cherish that moment of glory Bokini and the rest of the team gave them.

Well done Lautoka!

CHARLES CHAMBERS

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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