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Father Tells Of Naimasi’s Rugby Journey

Women who play rugby or any male dominated sport struggle to be seen as they face a lot of criticisms. And it took an Olympic bronze medal to change how
30 Aug 2021 15:12
Father Tells Of Naimasi’s Rugby Journey
Fijiana 7s utility back, Ana Maria Naimasi Photo: World Rugby

Women who play rugby or any male dominated sport struggle to be seen as they face a lot of criticisms.

And it took an Olympic bronze medal to change how most people view women in rugby.

These were comments of Mateo Nasara, father of Olympic bronze medalist, Ana Maria Naimasi.

“I would read comments about women choosing to play in male dominated sport, people say a lot of things about them, maybe because of the way they perform and not winning games,” he said.

“But winning bronze from the Olympic Games has really changed people’s perspective towards women in rugby.”

And he could not be more proud to have his daughter part of these history makers for Fijian women in rugby.

Being the only girl and the second eldest of four siblings, Naimasi was given the freedom to follow her dream.

The Galoa, Serua native who shares maternal links to Nukutubu, Rewa has donned three national jumpers in the past decade.

The Fijiana 7s utility back represented Fiji in cricket, netball and rugby and has bagged several gold medals for Lomary at the Coca-cola Games.

“I was overjoyed, seeing her performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game.

“It is well earned for her and the team. She is hardworking and dedicated when it comes to rugby and training.

“I always support whatever decision she makes regarding her rugby career,” Nasara said.

“She was always into sports. She was part of the Fiji women’s cricket team that travelled to Vanuatu for the Tri-Series in 2011 and 2012, while she was still schooling in Lomary Secondary School.”

Naimasi was also selected for the Fiji Netball Under-19, which was played in New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman Series and later represented Fiji A in 2014.

She made her debut for Fijiana at the Dubai 7s in 2017.

Her father indicated that after spending a few years in the village she decided to move to Suva to find a rugby club.

“I first thought she wanted to play netball but Naimasi told me she wanted to try out rugby.

“My advice was simple – if that’s what you want, then follow what your heart says.

“That was the big step for her – rather than staying in the village, and it was the start of her rugby career.”

Galoa village is home to former national reps including Donasio Ratubuli, Severo Koroduadua, Mikaele Leawer and Kele Leawere but Naimasi is the first female from her village to represent Fiji in rugby.

Naimasi also has close ties to St George Illawarra Dragons winger, Mikaele Ravalawa.

She is currently in Suva awaiting her family’s home isolation clearance, so she could return to her village.

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj



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