Football

From Football To Business

Ex- Labasa and Hekari United FC midfielder tells of the challenges he faced to prepare for his retirement
09 Apr 2021 12:50
From Football To Business
Pita Bolaitoga at his home in Korovou, Siberia in Labasa, on March 14, 2021. Photo: Laisa Lui

Pita Lato Levaci never regretted playing football saying that it was one of the highlights of his life.

In actual fact, he was known around Fiji and the Oceania football region as Pita Bolaitoga.

It was at the height of his football career that the crafty midfielder came to the point of realisation that he must do something to fall back on when he would have to retire.

Bolaitoga was then playing for Hekari United FC in Papua New Guinea and they had just won the national title.

“I had left for PNG in 2009 and played there right to 2016,” he recalled.

“It was a five-month competition per year. We (with Tuimasi Manuca) were the only Fijians in Hekari’s winning team that lifted the league title.”

Bolaitoga said, the thought of what he was going to do after football was something that fired-him up.

“While still having the energy, I decided to explore a few avenues of what I was going to fall back.”

Bolaitoga said, he knew of the risks involved but he had to do something about it or else he would regret it.

“I invested into a farming project in Saqani. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during Tropical Cyclone Yasa and Ana and I made a loss of about $5000.”

This made him even more determined to become successful.

Bolaitoga said when he returned from PNG in 2018 he played for Labasa and even at one stage was coaching the side.

At that time, he worked for two years as a manager for Parmod Enterprises.

“It was the experience gained from working with Parmod Enterprises that helped me progress.”

The 37-year-old, formed his security company and registered it as Sure Security Services.

Bolaitoga never looked back from here as he started a small BBQ business.

Optimistic and hopeful, he kept on and registered his second company, Intime Investments, that specialises in renovation and repair works

“This business was set-up to fulfil my long term goal of securing  land in Lagalaga,” he said.

“I thank the Labasa Football executives for their assistance in hiring my company to provide security during the national league games.

“Also, they gave me the contract to repair the fence at Subrail Park that was destroyed by the cyclone.”

Bolaitoga said the future looks promising with his companies after they were assisted by the Rotary Club.

“Apart from helping my family, I want to help young people who had lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

“I want to give them an opportunity to earn money as well and provide food on the table for their families.

“So far, I’ve employed 10 people who work for both companies.”

 

Family

Bolaitoga is the second eldest child of Sirilo Ciriyama and Seruwaia Levaci of Nakobo in Cakaudrove.

He has five siblings.

Bolaitoga’s wife Taraivini Ranadi is from Naigani in the Lomaiviti Group and they have two children 13-year-old Epeli Levaci and five-year-old Fulori Levaci.

Bolaitoga said he also used part of his football earnings to purchase a land near his parents home to build his house.

It was 2002 when he suffered a setback when his dad passed away.

“It had an impact on me. I lost his fatherly advice that was a pillar to my success. My dad was always there to support me and cheer me on in every game I played.”

For Bolaitoga, he had to learn fast to stand on his own two feet, take charge of the situation and make decisions that will benefit his family.

He did just that and is now learning every step in the business world despite challenges that come his way.

“I’m new to business and there are already big household names in the security industry.

“Again, I’m not scared to fail, I’d rather fail rather than not giving it a try.

“The same for the renovation and the roadside BBQ business, there are many challenges from the big companies but I’m not giving up.”

“I thank my family, the football fraternity and the fans for their continued support.

“I still visit the Labasa senior team and call them personally to either congratulate or encourage them after every game they play.

“I believe what makes the Labasa team great is the fact fans support them when they win and also when they lose.”

 

Start now

Bolaitoga said as a former footballer he had faced many challenges.

He has encouraged football players to invest their money wisely.

“Buy a house instead of renting around. They must do something about their lives while they still have the energy.”

He said every player must remember they cannot go on playing football forever.

 

Career

Bolaitoga started playing football while attending Labasa Sangam Primary School before continuing his secondary education at the Guru Nanak Khalsa College.

Football was always in Bolatoga’s heart and he did not complete his Year 12 studies at Bhawani Dayal Arya College.

This was because he was focused on football as he was under the Fiji Football Academy and had made it to the national team.

Bolaitoga played for Navua from 2005 to 2006 before moving to Ba in 2008. He was first introduced to the Labasa football team by his cousin Taniela Tuilevuka who was the coach/player in the early 1990s.

Tuilevuka was the coach in 1992 and 1994 when Labasa won the Inter District Championship.

Feedbackranobab@fijisun.com.fj

 




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