THE past two Saturdays I spent time at the ANZ Stadium watching the Deans quarter-finals and semi-finals.
I invited my colleague, Patrick, to join my two-year-old daughter and me to experience the unique secondary schools rugby atmosphere during the week of the quarter-finals
Patrick is an Australian and closely follows rugby league. He moved to Suva recently and wanted to watch a few games of local "footy" so he accepted my invitation.
When he arrived at the Stadium, he expressed his shock at the number of people who turned up to watch the games.
"I seriously thought that it was going to be about four people at the venue. This is really good, mate," he said.
I was happy with his first impression and shared how serious people are about the Deans finals and rugby in general, to put things into perspective.
In a nutshell, he enjoyed the rugby and was convinced to return for the semi-finals.
He returned last week to support RKS, because of no influence from me, and picked up on a few things on and off the field.
On the field, he found it distressing that the referees were not consistent in their decision making, while the players', showcasing plenty of flair and raw talent, made some poor decisions with ball in hand. He pointed out that the unnecessary kicking as pain to watch.
It appears the match officials issue might be solved if the Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby Union Referees Association flies someone from overseas this weekend (FT 7/8) and players will lift their game. Patrick would like that.
Off the field, he figured that the price for the tickets had increased compared with the previous week, but still the crowd turnout was spectacular.
And if you were occupying a bucket seat in the grandstand, it made it incredibly difficult for an average sized spectator to move in and out from his/her spot for toilet breaks without stepping on a few toes or twisting your ankle.
The crowd turnout, I am sure, will not disappoint anyone on Saturday. I hope, also, the ticket price is not inflated because if Patrick will ask me why the increase, I will not have an answer for him.
As for the grandstand seating/movement issue, I do not think it can be fixed because whoever renovated the stadium forgot Pacific islanders were going to use it, mostly.
So unfortunately, Patrick will need to work out how to avoid people stepping on his gout-infected ankle.
Anyway, Patrick has planned to bring his wife to watch the Deans final.
That will make it three consecutive Saturdays for Patrick to watch secondary schools rugby.
"We don't do this back home, mate," he says.
Two Saturdays ago he did not know anything about Fijian secondary schools rugby.
Two days from today he will be cheering for RKS with his wife in full force. I think it is really cool.
Mai Lodoni Mai!
Namadi Heights, Suva
IT is that time of the year when zone winners will converge for the secondary school's IDC.
This competition no doubt will unearth new talents and soccer displayed will be at its best as the youngsters will want to claim and bag a victory in the mecca of secondary schools soccer and some of these players will be eyed by district and national scouts.
But I feel sad when I see the support rendered towards the secondary schools soccer and I compare it to parental and crowd support towards the Deans, which is usually jam-packed and full of passionate supporters.
Something is amiss because soccer is normally watched by thousands of spectators. We need to find out the reasons for the lack of interest showed by spectators towards the secondary schools IDC.
On the other hand, I take this time to thank Vodafone for the financial assistance in boosting the competition.
The executives of Fiji Secondary School, under the leadership of Aminesh Ram, and all the zone officials and coaches must be commended for doing so much for the development of soccer at grass root level. Our teachers take out time to coaching students and teach them skills.
Underdogs will be out to prove a point at the highest level of competition and the under-19 pool draw makes the competition even more interesting. The four finalists from their zones in the Under 15 and 17 grades will be no pushover.
Hence, my best wishes to all the participating schools, players, officials and well-wishers for a fruitful weekend of soccer. Let us make this year's competition more meaningful and competitive and take it to greater heights.
Our rugby brothers have already laid the platform with the success of the Deans. Now it is time for soccer at secondary school level to shine! My best wishes to Man United as the English soccer season kicks off this weekend.
Go Red Devils!
RAJNESH ISHWAR LINGAM
I BELIEVE it is long overdue for the Fiji Roads Authority officials to pay a visit and look into the conditions of Calia and Tokotoko Back Rd.
I believe these roads were to be upgraded several years ago, but are left lying untarsealed.
There are many houses alongside these roads. All kinds of people reside and make use of these roads.
The roads are not wide enough for heavy vehicles to pass one another safely nor safer for pedestrians to walk when heavily in use by vehicles.
Furthermore, during the dry spell the amount of dust that arises from the passing vehicles from these gravel roads are unbearable and health hazardous.
Majority of the households have to keep their houses closed to avoid dust.
The most affected are the women who find quite difficult to keep the houses clean neat and tidy from dust.
Washed clothes hanging on clothesline before being dried gets dirty and dusty.
Schoolchildren who make use of these roads are among affected ones. Their school uniform get dirty and dusty.
Again, during the rainy weather and when there are potholes, pedestrians get dirty from the pothole water from the moving vehicles.
Currently, the Tokotoko Back Rd drains on both sides have been dug and cleaned.
However, the sides of the road are sloppy and dangerous for pedestrians and vehicles to slip in the drains during rainy weather.
When talking of road safety measures, how people can take appropriate measures and comply with safety when roads are not to the safe standard.
Navua residents are waiting and soon official opening will be made to declare Navua a town.
The abovementioned roads fall in the town area boundaries. Town rates will become a must after officials declaration.
I only hope that the Fiji Roads Authority officials and concerned authorities soon make a visit and witness for themselves the need to upgrade and tarseal these roads.
A GOOD mate has passed on... moce mada Niko Bulai.
We grew up together in the tough neighbourhood of Nadera.
Oh yes we got into doing silly things, but we were young and our friends were just as silly as us.
Niko migrated to Australia, but before that while living in Nadera he would fascinate us with his guitar work.
Of course we loved or grog.
He was part of the Nadera Catholic youth and went with us on retreats and youth outings.
He played guitar during mass and sang in the choir.
The Nadera church hall was our HQ and that kept us on the straight and narrow.
Volleyball, soccer, touch rugby was our pastime.
We had other pastimes, which, ahem, I shall keep secret.
This was the time when Fiji Bitter cost 11 cents a glass at the Metropole Hotel!
Niko started playing in bands and then moved to Australia where he made a name for himself as a top bass guitarist.
I remember one time we went to buy beer in Nabua (from Nadera) and we went on one of our mates 250 Kawasaki trail bike.
Three of us were on it.
Well, we were much smaller back then with the driver sitting on the tank.
At 2am on Sunday we were speeding back to Nadera.
I don't know how we made it back alive with two cartons of beer.
But we did.
So many memories of our antics that I remember, perhaps I will one day put all of it in a book.
In the meantime, rest in peace Niko or Guran as we fondly called him.
If there is grog when you have gone good friend, make sure it's a tight mix.
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