Life After Sports: Ex-Goalie Now Works With Youths

Vosaboto overcomes many challenges to make it in life   
04 Sep 2020 11:22
Life After Sports: Ex-Goalie Now Works With Youths
Iosefo Vosaboto.

At the age of 48 former national and Ba goalkeeper Iosefo Vosaboto is seen walking around with a limp.

It is from the severe leg injuries he had sustained during his sporting career.

Born and raised in Ba where two of the country’s top goalkeepers Bale Raniga and Hurricane Naivivi made their mark, trying to emulate them was what he did while attending Xavier College.

Vosaboto was born on November 8, 1971 at the Ba Mission Hospital.

At the age of 18, he made his debut for Ba in the 1990 Premier League clash against Navua at Thomson Park.

“Also I played in my first tournament, which was the 1990 Battle of the Giants,” he recalled.

“It was held in Ba and we beat Suva on penalty shoot-outs. At that time, the first choice goalkeeper for the Fiji team was Tagi Vonolagi and Fiji FA (Football Association) was looking for the second goalkeeper and depended on the outcome of the final.

“When Ba won I knew that I would be the second goalkeeper to tour the United States of America in 1990.”

That year he also made his debut for the Fijian Under-20 team and in 1991 he made the Fijian U23 side.

Vosaboto played for the national team from 1990 to 2000. Apart from international and district levels, he also played for football clubs like Flying Arrow, Soweri, FSC (Fiji Sugar Corporation) and Police.


Abrupt halt 

The 1995 Battle of the Giants tournament at Subrail Park in Labasa, was the worst for Vosaboto as his promising career came to an abrupt halt.

Vosaboto said, it was during their pool match against Nadroga and all the Ba players including last-man down Epeli Rokoqica were in the opposition’s half.

Nadroga managed to kick a long ball towards the Ba goal and Vosaboto raced out of the box to clear the ball.

“When I was about to kick the ball, Nadroga’s Ned Hicks placed his foot out to stop the ball and that was it, I broke my leg the very instant I kicked the ball,” he said.

The injury was so bad that many thought it was end of Vosaboto’s career.

It took him two years to recover and at one stage there were fears among football officials of allowing him to make a comeback.

It was in 2001 when Vosaboto’s Ba team-mates Taito Bula and Jope Namawa influenced him to join them in Lautoka.

The move was a success as Vosaboto made his comeback and captained Lautoka to win the Fiji FACT tournament.

“It was after 15 years that Lautoka had won the FACT title,” he added.


Work life

Vosaboto retired from playing top level football in 2003.

He was supported by Fiji FA and turned to coaching and got his first assignment as the national team’s goalkeeper coach to the 2003 South Pacific Games in Suva.

Working under coach, Tony Buesnel, they guided the national men’s team to win the gold medal as they dumped New Caledonia 2-0 in the final.

From 2004, Vosaboto became Fiji FA’s development officer and goalkeeper coach for all the age groups until he resigned last year.

Happily married with two children, he joined the Ministry of Youth and Sports as an assistant Youth Officer based- at their Ba office.

He liaises with youth organisations around the Ba district on their community development.



Vosaboto attended Naloto District School from Year 1- 6 before moving to Magodro District School (Year 7-8). He attended Xavier College, Ba from 1985 to 1989 where he represented the school in athletics, cricket, rugby and football.

“I started my football career when I was in primary school,” he said.

Vosaboto switched to rugby when he attended Magodro District School and represented the school to the Nadi Primary Schools rugby competition.

“I played on the wing when it comes to rugby because I was very fast,” he said.

“I was selected to represent Nadi U14 at the 1984 Fiji National Primary Schools Rugby Championship at Levuka where we won.

While at Xavier College, he played striker during their inter-form football competition.

“We qualified to the semi-final and on that day our goalkeeper did not turn up,” he said.

“So I was asked to stand between the posts. My form reached the final but we lost. I played a great game as I made a lot of saves,”

It was there Vosaboto was approached and told that he was going to play goalkeeper.

“My goalkeeper coach was Brother Paul who was a teacher and the late Farouk Janeman who brought me up from where I am today.”


Other sports

Vosaboto played in the Ba Rugby Union’s club competition. He represented Balevuto, FSC and Vadravadra.

“I also played in the Lautoka rugby competition and represented Topline and the Stallions. I tried playing sevens rugby representing Keiyasi Young Boys at the Fiji Bitter Nawaka Sevens and Tovolea Rugby Club (Field 40).”

Vosaboto played cricket as a wicket-keeper and bowler while at Xavier College. He also represented Ba at the annual Easter Volleyball Championship in Suva.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua





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