Played In Dubai, Plan B In China, Varawa Ponders Future After Rugby

He secured a rugby contract in Dubai in 2014 and a knee injury ended his playing career four years later after going surgery twice.
25 Aug 2019 10:19
Played In Dubai, Plan B In China, Varawa Ponders Future After Rugby
Vilikesa Varawa.

Vilikesa Rakanace Ramaqa Varawa has a story to tell.

The youngest of five, the 25-year-old relied on his siblings for guidance and advice after the death of his mother in 2004 when he was in Year 5 and later his father in 2009 when was in Year 10.

He secured a rugby contract in Dubai in 2014 and a knee injury ended his playing career four years later after going surgery twice.

With the help of his siblings, he was among the few fortunate ones to secure a scholarship to study at Beijing Sports University in China.

He shares the experience, challenge and hardships young people of today can overcome in their quest to secure a better future.

How did you end up in Dubai?

In my final year at Marist Brothers High School, I captained the Under-19 rugby team in both rugby union and rugby league.

Straight after high school in 2013, I joined the Marist Rugby Club. I then got an offer from the Al Ain Ambers Rugby Club in Dubai in February 2014.

I was excited and same time emotional after reading the offer knowing that I will be leaving my family for the first time.

Experience in Dubai:

Flying to Dubai was my first overseas trip. I was definitely nervous about travelling alone and transiting in Seoul, South Korea (overnight).

Dubai is a city like no other that has quite literally popped up out of the desert, full of exciting things…watching the sunset from the Burj Khalifa or spending a day in the world’s largest indoor amusement park.

Living in Dubai does not in any way require a person to actually speak Arabic fluently. However, anyone who lives in Dubai learns just the right amount of Arabic words and to strategically insert them in every day sentences.

Twice, I faced a major knee injury that ended up at the surgical stage. After recovering from my surgery, I thought it was a good time to take on plan B and that is further my studies. I was still playing after, but not as good as, I was before. My mindset was there, but my body was giving up on me.

It was hard for me to give up this opportunity as this was where my passion was. Coming to think of it, at the end of the day, it’s my future that matters.

How did you get the Chinese scholarship?

As the youngest, I look up to my older siblings for advice. The support I got was good especially being far away from home.

With one of the many calls home (through skype) and exchanging ideas on my plan B, Jone Jnr (oldest brother) informed me about the Chinese government scholarship and that I should give it a go.

So, yes he sent me the application form, after reading the form and seeing all the requirements, I said to myself, how can I do all this especially when applying away from home…getting my transcripts certified and so on…my siblings are working and have no time to be running around for this.

This was in 2018, with the help of my brothers and only sister, everything was compiled and dropped off at TELS Office just on the very last day. I was very glad to be part of the 10+ receiving the Chinese scholarship to attend Beijing Sport University

Duration of course

Four years to complete the course (Major Sports Coaching & Physical Education).

The first year is learning the Mandarin language.

Challenges faced studying in China The process of learning a new culture can be challenging because it gives me a completely new perspective and understanding other people’s points of view.

Mandarin Chinese the most common dialect. It is however understandable that sometimes I was too afraid to speak a sentence for fear of getting a word wrong.

Studying in China

The most obvious being is that you must get used to an entirely new life. Although there are times when exploring by yourself is fun, making memories with a group you feel comfortable with is equally rewarding.

Personally, I found it a little difficult to find a big group to hang out with, I’m better at getting to know people in a more intimate setting rather than in a group setting, so I tried to hang out with people one on one. I also made friends outside my study abroad community via other activities.

Time management: Once you start getting into a routine during study abroad, it’s easy to feel like you’re running out of time. Between exploring new places, going to school, and going to club meetings, sometimes you feel that you just don’t have enough energy or time to get everything done. A way to find balance is to make a weekly schedule to visualise all your commitments. If there’s something you need to take out because you feel that it’s making you overly stressed, take it out! Also, be aware that busyness isn’t something to glorify just because you’re in an exciting, new place—it’s okay to spend time with yourself and unwind.

Plan after you graduate

After graduating, I would return to Fiji and help with the development of rugby. I will look for opportunities that match my career to get more experience in coaching

Challenges faced so far

The most painful I went through was when I lost my parents (mum – when I was in Class 5, dad – when I was in Form 4).

As the youngest of the family, I was very close to my parents. I find each day unbearable and find it harder and harder.

I cannot sleep at night and break down all the time especially schooling in a boarding school, away from my family.

I missed them so much and life feels so empty without them… but then I remember they are gone.

I feel so alone and helpless. I had reached the point of giving up school.

Never dreamt that I will lose my parents that early. Feel like part of me had died too and I struggled but the support of my siblings and family got me back up again.

Nevertheless, you have to be prepared to deal with whatever life offers-prepared for or not.

Advice to young people

If you believe in yourself you can do it. It is crucial to inform people about the importance of education.

Every time I go to events, I share my story and people leave feeling encouraged that they can overcome whatever challenges they are facing.

Edited by Osea Bola



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