Feature

Women In Sports: Tikoilomaloma Is A No Quitter

From beach volleyball to football, she has been actively involved in sporta in the Pacific Harbour community.
06 Jun 2021 16:20
Women In Sports: Tikoilomaloma Is A No Quitter
Navua Football Asssociation secretary Seni Tikoilomaloma with her son in Navua.

At the age of 39 and surviving a serious spinal injury, Seni Tikoilomaloma, is a no quitter when it comes to sports.

From beach volleyball to football, she has been actively involved in sporta in the Pacific Harbour community.

The mother of five is the secretary of the Navua Football Association, a role she took up officially in 2020.

She is also part of the Koromakawa FC where majority of the players’ make-up the Navua side that play in the Digicel Premier League competition.

“I’m proud to be one of the few women who are involved with Navua FA in order to encourage other young women to join as committee members,” Tikoilomaloma said.

She hails from Kadavu but was brought up in Viseisei, Vuda. She was still young when her parents separated.

Her first involvement with football started when she attended Rishikul Sanatan College in 1996 and it continued on when she moved to Nadi College.

“As much as I would have loved to play the game back in school during our PE (Physical Education) classes, the game wasn’t really that popular among the girls.

“So, we were merely spectators but we loved football,” said Tikoilomaloma.

However, her two aunts, dad’s older sisters, Milika Vereivalu and Karalaini Lia played for the Suva Women’s team while her uncle Peni Waqairatu played for Rewa in the 1970s.

Opportunity 

Tikoilomaloma worked as a sales and marketing consultant for Koromakawa Rentals and Tours. The business is owned and managed by a business couple in Pacific Harbour, Rajeev and Ashwini Prasad.

Rajeev, who is the president of the Navua FA was looking for a secretary last year and he approached Tikoilomaloma if she was interested. She immediately agreed and never looked back.

To Tikoilomaloma, this is what she regards as her biggest achievement in sports- to be an official of a Premier football team.

“Women are still not accepted as a part of the decision making plans of any sport. In joining Navua FA, I was able to break that barrier and encourage other women in the area to do so.

“I’ve been trying to boost their confidence, motivate young women to join the sport and be a part of the working committee,” she said.

Tikoilomaloma said the thought that other women held such positions in other sporting bodies, had really empowered her.

“I’ve known the rules of the game but now I’m learning about the technical side of it.

“Also, I’m educating myself on what resources are available in promoting the sport to the young women. How I could make use of those resources in attracting their attention to the sport before developing them.”

Tikoliomaloma’s next step is to acquire her coaching licence.

“This is a step to develop young players especially in the rural areas or villages.

“There are a lot of kids who are very talented living in the villages. They are only hoping for an opportunity to develop that talent and for them to make a living out of it.”

Learn how to walk

However, life has not been so rosy for Tikoilomaloma.

In 2016, while working for Crusoe Retreat Resort in Serua, she injured her spine from a two-feet fall.

She was bedridden for about eight months before she began her full recovery. In actual fact, she had to learn how to walk again.

“This is a permanent injury and I’m usually on painkillers almost every other day in order to support my back.

“However, this did not deter me from establishing the youth and sports club,” she said.

“It certainly did not deter me from joining the Navua FA committee when given the opportunity.

“It gives me a medium to empower young women to do what their heart tells them to do. Especially, when they have the passion to take the first step and the rest they could develop themselves along the way.

“Never lose hope in yourself when you know you have limits to what you should do regarding your health.

“But instead use that as a driving factor in involving the youths to work with you in carrying out the development work to move the association and the club further.”

Learning new skills 

Tikoilomaloma is learning from her position as Navua FA secretary.

“Being a part of the association has only helped me improve my managerial skills, widen my network in the sports industry and using this network to develop me in the game of football.

“I have learned to balance my work life and my involvement with the Navua FA.

“However, the current pandemic had affected my career since I had worked in the tourism industry.

“Also the COVID-19 restrictions that are in place stop us from organising any sporting events.

“We’re only wishing everyone adhere to the COVID-19 protocols in place and stay safe so we can go back to normal.”

Just a glance 

Tikoilomaloma has three of her children living with her while two are with her mother in Savusavu.

“Becoming a full time mum since this pandemic in 2020 has only driven my passion to engage myself with the youths and develop them after seeing my kids had taken an interest in other sports.

“My oldest son plays volleyball while one of my daughters is into football,” she said.

Her partner, Everett Riley, has been very supportive of her choices of career especially her voluntary work with youths and Navua FA.

Riley played rugby for Uprising in Pacific Harbour.

When he retired, he has been helping coach the team. Riley also received has a Level One coaching accreditation.

He is also a certified strength and conditioning coach.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj



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