Serevi Re­veals How He Went To US

Fiji Sun - - Sports - LEONE CABENATABUA SUVA

For the first time sevens mae­stro Waisale Serevi talked about the most try­ing time in his life af­ter his rugby ca­reer came to an end.

“I was re­ally low then,” Serevi said while speak­ing as guest speaker at the Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific School of So­cial Sci­ences spe­cial sem­i­nar last night. “It was 2010 and at the end of my rugby ca­reer. For me it was lie down and quit or to move on to the next level. I thought about those that had sup­ported me- my wife and chil­dren. “Peo­ple who knew me and my re­la­tions were reach­ing out to me but they could not touch me. Even rugby was reach­ing out and yet they could not touch me. But God’s hand was able to reach me and lift me up.” Serevi said this made him leave the coun­try and head to Canada to look for op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I’m grate­ful to Pas­tor Ne­tani (Gu­cake) who is here tonight with his daugh­ter. They housed me for a cou­ple of months in Canada as I went on search­ing.”

It was there, he says, Seat­tle Rugby heard that he was in Canada and wanted to go over.

“I prob­a­bly was the first Fi­jian that walked from Canada to USA. As I was walk­ing two of­fi­cials ap­proached me and asked where I was go­ing and I told them to the bor­der. “As I walked I was car­ry­ing my plas­tic bags. One plas­tic bag had my boots and run­ners, the other plas­tic bag had my toi­letries and one had my clothes. “At the bor­der I pro­duced my pass­port and they saw that I was a rugby player but by then an In­dian man came by and he knew me so he ex­plained to the of­fi­cials and that made it eas­ier for me to cross over. For that to hap­pen it was only from God.” Serevi said at the mo­ment he did not know that he was ac­tu­ally walk­ing into a gold mine. “The head of Seat­tle Rugby be­came my busi­ness part­ner and asked me what else I needed and I told him that I needed my fam­ily to be with me. He pressed a few but­tons and within min­utes their air­line tick­ets were in front of me as they were to leave Fiji the very next day. “My fam­ily was al­ways there sup­port­ing my rugby ca­reer and it was time for me to give some­thing back to them. For me it was ed­u­ca­tion for my chil­dren even though I was noschool,” Serevi said with laugh­ter.

To­day, he says, el­dest daugh­ter Unaisi has joined the US Air Force while Asi­nate has been named in the USA women’s rugby team for next year’s World Cup. “She couldn’t make it to the Rio Olympics as she still has her Fi­jian pass­port.”

BEN RYAN

Serevi said we should al­ways sup­port who­ever the Fiji Rugby Union has ap­pointed to take over from na­tional rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan. ‘Whether he is a lo­cal or an over­seas coach we must al­ways sup­port him so he can achieve what he has been set to do,” he said. “Ev­ery good coach will al­ways se­lect the play­ers he wants. And we should be grate­ful to what Ben Ryan has achieved for us at the Olympics.” Serevi said Ryan was a great coach and for now he is set to go out and take on new chal­lenges.

“I will tell you two things why I say Ryan is a great coach. First when he came to Fiji for three months he was not paid. What would have hap­pened if he had gone back home? He stayed and we should thank him for that. “Se­condly when they ar­rived at Nadi af­ter the Olympics, Ryan was asked on whether he was leav­ing and he said yes but this is not about me. It’s about them- the play­ers. That is a mark of a great coach.”

The mae­stro paid trib­ute to the late All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu in­di­cat­ing he was his most tough­est op­po­nent in the rugby field. “At the 1994 Hong Kong 7s, Luke Ere­navula who was play­ing for New Zealand bought a young Jonah to my room. We were in­tro­duced and we had tea to­gether with those FMF bis­cuits and had a good time as we talked about rugby. As we parted that night, Jonah took all the bean pack­ets so I tapped him on the shoul­der and urged him to make the most of it. “Prob­a­bly that was my big­gest mis­take ever.” Serevi said Lomu was a hum­ble player off the field but a dif­fer­ent per­son al­to­gether when he comes run­ning down at you. Edited by Osea Bola

Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau

Waisale Serevi at the Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific Ocea­nia Cen­tre for Arts, Cul­ture and Pa­cific Stud­ies last night.

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