‘Street Kid’ Turns To League

Full-back tells of his petty crime to support his family since his dad was in prison.
12 Oct 2019 10:39
‘Street Kid’ Turns To League
Fijian Prime Minister’s XIII full-back Josua Waqavesi takes a high ball against Australia Prime Minister’s XIII at the ANZ Stadium, Suva on October 11, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Playing for the Fijian Prime Minister’s XIII rugby league team last night has brought a ray of hope for 23-year-old, Josua Waqavesi.

Playing at full-back against a star studded Australia’s Prime Minister’s XIII, was a big lift for him.

Despite the 52-10 loss, Waqavesi who lived on the streets of Suva now has a hope of securing a better future through rugby league.

The Tarukua, Cicia, Lau native was forced to live on the streets and turned to petty crime (like pick pocketing) to make ends meet.

His dad a soldier went to jail for his involvement in the May 19, 2000 political crisis.

“My mother looked after us,” Waqavesi recalled.

“It was really a hard time for us at home to not have a father around the house.

“She made sure we were properly taken care of but I had other ideas that’s why I did pick pocketing to get money to support our family.”

In his heart, Waqavesi knew that what he was doing was wrong and was ashamed of it.

While on the streets, he maintained his passion for rugby league as it was also a platform where he could vent out his frustrations concerning his struggles.


Every Saturday, when he plays for the Davuilevu Knights he always gives his all like there was no tomorrow.

His speed and skills caught the eye of an army officer Jale Smith, who happened to live in the Davuilevu community.

“Mr Smith invited me to attend the trials in Pacific Harbour last month and I took it up.”

Vodafone Fijian Bati head coach Brandon Costin said what amazed him was Waqavesi’s speed and silky skills to break through the defence.

“It was just like what was told me. Josh is by the far the best full-back, lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm, his young.

“Josh got a lot of time in the game. The way he moves is so athletic he glides along the grass, his almost like a ballerina that flows across the ground so pretty to watch.

“I believe he has a big future he’ll be part of the Kaiviti Silktails to play in the NSW Cup, where he will grow and develop.

“There is a chance that he’s going to be a future Bati player.”


The opportunity to play for Fijian Prime Minister’s XIII was a lifeline for Waqavesi as he knows this could be his only chance to prove himself.

“The bad things we do is not the life that we want to live.

“This is another life through sports it develops our lives. Even though its hard but it’s all about patience and hard work,” he said.

“Well God has different plans for me. I know it’s always peer pressure and the bad influence of the friends that I had.

“I chose the wrong group probably the wrong crowd they say.”

“When I look back at those days, it’s so sad really what I went through and the whole experience, I now see rugby league as a better life than being on the streets.”

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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