Sportsman of the Year on track for Rio Olympics
2015 Fiji Sportsman of the Year tells of the wrong he did and how he learned from it
At the age of 20 Vodafone Fijian Under-23 star striker Iosefo Verevou has been through a lot in life. Speaking to SUNsports yesterday, the 2015 Fiji Sportsman of the Year, for the first time spoke of the shame, pain and the bad boy tag he had to endure after he was suspended in May 2014 for breaking camp while with the Fijian U20 side. Verevou copped a heavy fine from Fiji Football Association and was suspended from playing all levels of football. “When I got suspended I really thought it was the end of my career,” the Naselai native from Rewa who made his national premier league debut at the tender age of 15 said.
“I was very regretful and emotional. It’s very difficult to describe it in words. It was one of those moments where you wish you could turn back time and stop yourself from doing what you’ve done. “But it was too late and I had to come to terms with what I had done.” When on the verge of giving up, his district officials at Rewa Football Association stepped in and paid his $3360 fine to the Fiji FAand he was eligible to play again.
“If it wasn’t for Rewa Football I would not be here today. Rewa Football had faith in me and gave me a second chance. “And from there on I made it my aim to take the opportunity with both hands and make something out of myself.” Verevou was immediately recalled into the Fijian U20 side and became one of the stars at the FIFA U20 World Cup. He scored against Germany and Honduras where they recorded a historic 3-0 win. On his return, Verevou joined the Fijian U23 side and helped them qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August. He has been a member of the Fiji U23 that toured Spain and this afternoon he leaves with them on a tour Brazil. This is part of their preparation for the Rio Olympics. “I have grown a lot as a person since then and also as a player, I’m doing something that I love and I’m not going to mess that up again by doing a silly mistake.
“I know for a fact that I’m not the same person as I was in 2014 and I know that I will never do anything like that again. “Now I am fulfilling my dream of going to Brazil to play football and I never thought that I would be in this position so I’m really excited and nervous at the same time. It is a dream come true.”
Looking at his latest achievement, of being named the 2015 Fiji Sportsman of the Year, Verevou says, it is one of the highlights of his young sporting career. “To be honest I was not really expecting the win and when I heard that I had won, that was one of the proudest moment of my life.
“But that award is not just for me, that award is for my family, everyone who has helped me get to where I am today and to all football fans in the country,” he added.
I have grown a lot as a person since then and also as a player, I’m doing something that I love and I’m not going to mess that up again by doing a silly mistake.
Vodafone Fijian Under-23 star striker
Iosefo Verevou flies out to Brazil with the Vodafone Fijian U23 today.