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

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - JUS­TINE MAN­NAN SUVA Edited by Leone Cabenatabua jus­tine.man­nan@fi­jisun.com.fj

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.

Iosefo Verevou

Voda­fone Fi­jian Un­der-23 star striker

Photo: Zim­bio

Iosefo Verevou flies out to Brazil with the Voda­fone Fi­jian U23 to­day.

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