SPORTS

Ben’s Journey

Veteran Flying Fijian No.10 tells of his experience.
30 May 2021 11:00
Ben’s Journey
Flying Fijians first five eight Ben Volavola.

In an interview with Duncan Chubb from Wandering Bear Sports, veteran Flying Fijian Ben Volavola talked about his journey.

Volavola currently plays in Perpignan, south of France.

From playing for the Southern Districts in southern Sydney, to joining the Waratahs, Crusaders, moving to France and his experience of representing Fiji, which was the highlight of it all.

Born in Suva, before moving to Australia, Volavola indicated that representing the white jersey gave him a total new experience.

When asked what was it like playing for Fiji the first time, he said: “It was really emotional and unreal. Growing up in Sydney obviously, wanting to be a rugby player you aspire to be a Wallaby.

“I grew up the first eight to nine years of my life was in Fiji, so at the time, I wanted to play sevens for Fiji. Like as a kid, your heroes play sevens, that’s all you know.”

“And transitioning moving over to Fiji, I was surrounded by gold and sky blue – the Waratahs.

“So, growing up then and playing junior rugby in Sydney, I was aspiring if I could become a Wallaby that probably would be a dream come true sort of thing.”

“Fast forward me to singing the national anthem for Fiji, wearing the white jersey and my first game was in Fiji.”

“Seeing families that I knew did not have the means to travel and to watch me play while I was in Sydney –so to see this side of my family, in Fiji in the crowd, it blew the expectations that I had away.”

Volavola said he came to realise that he was able to represent not only his family but his people also.

“Looking back at it now, I would not change a thing.”

“It was an unreal experience, and every time I put that white jersey on, it’s almost like I am putting it on for the first time, that feeling never goes away.”

“I’ve 20 something maybe Tests.”

“My first game was against the New Zealand Maori, I started off on the bench, that was played in Fiji.”

 

First experience

He represented Fiji in the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups with the guidance of former Flying Fijians coach, John McKee.

“I have shared this with a few of the boys, my first nerve wrecking experience was the opening game for the 2015 World Cup, against England,” Volavola recalled.

“We were opening the World Cup and I remembered vividly our captain (Akapusi) Qera – he comes in after doing the coin toss, he tells me we are kicking off and we are going this way, and remember the strategy, I sort of nodding my head and that moment my heart just dropped man.”

“We ran out, sing our national anthem did our war cry and then holding the ball and I can barely hold the ball still.”

“There was about 80,000 in the stand, it was loud and you can just feel the electricity and the energy – it was unreal.”

“But that experience- going from not playing in top club rugby like the Waratahs and representing Fiji in the World Cup that made me fall in love with the game again. That whole experience was unreal.”

 

Sacrifices

Volavola said playing for the Flying Fijian is not what it is.

“It is a massive sacrifice, you can only imagine, guys who live, in small villages within Fiji and all of a sudden been taken out of that into whole new situation,” he explained.

“A new culture that does not speak the language that they speak, or even the even the second chosen language which is English which they are comfortable with. And having to adapt with that, there is massive sacrifice that the boys have to make.”

“Whenever you see us boys come together they can just be themselves again.”

“You’re speaking your natural tongue, the jokes that you are throwing around, everyone sort of knows and can relate to and even on the field when we play together.”

“We can truly express ourselves in a way that I think that could be different within our separate clubs,” he added.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj



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