FIJI NEWS | Fiji Sports

Young Missionary Uses Rugby As A Tool To Evangelise

“I was so keen and ready to risk it all and now, it turns out that it is a God given talent to me and I’m so blessed that God led me to this path and I will use this talent to glorify Him.”
29 Nov 2021 11:20
Young Missionary Uses  Rugby As A Tool To Evangelise
Queensland Reds squad member Vani Vaa’ga Arei (right) with cousin and Flying Fijians halfback, Frank Lomani.

Using rugby as a tool to spread the word of God has led Vani Vaa’ga Arei to getting to new heights of success and one of the in getting into the women’s Queensland Reds 2022 squad.

Arei, 22, is part of the 48-woman Queensland Reds Academy squad and one of the four Fijians in the squad.

The other three are forwards Vuanimasei Rasolea, Ema Masi and Grace Qaranivalu. Vani plays first and second five eighths and also plays wing. 

Traditionally the squad has assembled much closer to the start of the Super W campaign, but the instalment of an Academy programme sees the coaching staff have a much longer lead into the competition, and the ability to build more depth within the squad.

A total of 26 players who are already capped for Queensland in Super W have been named, as well as a further five players who have Super W experience with other squads. 

The list includes seven Wallaroos, including Australian Sevens Olympic gold medallist Shannon Parry, who has made the return to her home state after the Tokyo Olympic campaign.

Meanwhile, Arei grew up in a family of five siblings in Savusavu – two girls and three boys; her older brother financially supports her.

“I listen to music, it helps pump and motivate me before any game or to just stay active. I don’t have a special diet. I just eat normal food and I make sure the meal is a balanced meal and the portion is just right.

“It’s always a tight schedule between training and work I make sure to rest after work before training .

“The bond, teamwork and good times that the team Reds share on and off the field makes everything light and worth the while.”

The former St Bedes College student was a sprinter while at school. This is an added advantage when she settled in at the Land of Opportunities as a YWAM using rugby to get her citizenship.

“I came to Australia five years ago through a programme called YWAM (Youth With a Mission ) led by Waqa Baravilala and his wife Jade Baravilala ,” Arei said.

“Back in Fiji I got involved with rugby because I found the sport interesting and not only that I also wanted to create a pathway for my family; or for the generations to come,” she said.

“From my mother’s side –  her families have a fair number of rugby players, majority of whom are now regulars on the local and international competition both in sevens and fifteens.

  “Now there are three of my cousins who are making their debut at the Dubai sevens this weekend.

“They are Dan Yaya, Iowane Leone and Iowane Teba of Raiwasa Taveuni. 

“There is also Frank Lomani who played with Melbourne Rebels and is also a national 15s rep. Frank and I were with the Rebels in 2020 before I moved up to Queensland this year.”

Vani had started off at Boxhill in Melbourne before moving to Sunny Bank in Queensland.

She is a member of the President’s XV super W this year and now that the season is over she trains with the Queensland Reds (W).

“I now live with a couple from Kadavu, Tish and her husband Cameron Bryan with their three lovely children.

“I used to play soccer also back in Vanua Levu but rugby fascinates me – the stamina, the pace, the energy and I love running.

“Here training  is challenging. Every day I make sure to stay calm as much as possible and be stress free before any training/game.

“I do my YWAM work, it is rewarding work.

“With where I am now I want to be a professional rugby player. It will be very much an honour to play and represent my country, Fiji.

 “I had left Fiji in 2017 and since then I haven’t been back. I miss her Fijian food 

“I had watched our Fijiana 7’s team on television at the Japan Olympics. They really motivated me that I can also be like that playing professional rugby and travel round the world.

“Growing up I excelled in three different sports, I was an athlete, a netball player  and a soccer player – I kept on switching from sport to sport but there was this unsatisfying feeling inside of me that just wasn’t right and when rugby was introduced in our school I didn’t hesitate and went for it even though I didn’t know what I was putting myself into.

“I was so keen and ready to risk it all and now, it turns out that it is a God given talent to me and I’m so blessed that God led me to this path and I will use this talent to glorify Him.”


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