NACUQU

Why drop­ping out of school didn’t stop

mailife - - Sports - By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos IVAMERE ROKOVESA

At home in Vo­tua vil­lage just a stone’s throw from the banks of Ba River, one of Fiji’s top rugby wingers can be found if not help­ing his cousins cut­ting sug­ar­cane, then fish­ing in the river. Such is how things are for 23 year old Voda­fone 7s winger Waisea Nacuqu when he is on break from rugby and liv­ing the sim­ple life of the vil­lage. MaiL­ife team caught sight of the winger at the Ba Mar­ket seated on a bench talk­ing with his fa­ther, an un­cle and a cousin. Ca­su­ally dressed in a grey t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops Nacuqu was clearly en­joy­ing his break. “While I still have the chance, I try to en­joy the sim­ple things in life – like you see­ing me here at the Ba Mar­ket just sit­ting around with my old man and un­cle and hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with them.” “I love do­ing these sim­ple things. It’s who I am and no mat­ter where rugby takes me, I am al­ways go­ing to be Waisea Nacuqu the sim­ple boy from Vo­tua Vil­lage in Ba who fishes in the river and cuts cane.” “Some peo­ple let fame get to them, but I am a sim­ple guy who never for­gets my hum­ble be­gin­ning.” Born and bred in the soc­cer mad town of Ba, Nacuqu played soc­cer all his life and even went as far as rep­re­sent­ing Tavua in the Bat­tle of the Gi­ants, In­ter-District Cham­pi­onship and Premier League. The youngest of three chil­dren, Nacuqu lives with his par­ents – his fa­ther Adria Walu and mother Make­lesi Dugu in Vo­tua and hasn’t had a full-time job since he dropped out of school when he was 12 years old. “I was not a bright stu­dent in school and af­ter I com­pleted Class 7 at Vo­tua Catholic School, I re­fused to go back, I guess it is just me but I have no re­grets,” he said. Nacuqu turned to sports and at the time it was soc­cer that was go­ing to be his bread and but­ter – un­til 2012 when he de­cided to start play­ing rugby. “In 2012 I was jug­gling be­tween the two sports – play­ing soc­cer for Tavua and play­ing rugby for Westl­field Toka­toka Bar­bar­ians team in Nadi,” he said. “It was dif­fi­cult at first but I thank God for giv­ing me the strength to carry on and not give up on my dreams.” In 2013, Alif­er­eti Der­e­nalagi, the Fiji 7s coach back then, caught sight of Nacuqu dur­ing the Nawaka Rugby 7s in Nadi which West­field won. “Der­e­nalagi watched me play and I got a shock I was drafted into the national 7s squad. That to me was my sil­ver lin­ing and I knew straight away that I was stuck with rugby.” Ben Ryan took over from Der­e­nalagi and kept him in the squad but Nacuqu was still a step away from wear­ing the white jersey. It was dur­ing the Gold Coast 7s in Aus­tralia in 2013 that Nacuqu made his de­but as half-back for Fiji dur­ing their first pool match against Canada. “That was the best mo­ment of my life and I will never for­get the time that Ben Ryan men­tioned my name as he an­nounced the run-on team to face Canada.” Nacuqu is not the first to make the switch from soc­cer to rugby. His first cousins, New Zealand based Pio Tuwai and France based Jo­sua ‘the bus’ Tuisova as well as Filipo Nakosi also took the same path. “Pio, Tuisova and Nakosi are my cousins – my Dad and their Mum are sib­lings but my Dad is older and we all grew up to­gether in the vil­lage.”

“We played soc­cer and rugby to­gether and am pretty sure if there comes a time when we get to play in the same team, we will be a lethal com­bi­na­tion be­cause we play well to­gether,” Nacuqu said. “I am happy and proud of my cousins and what they have achieved. I learn a lot from them and am grate­ful for their en­cour­age­ment and mo­ti­va­tion to keep reach­ing for my goals and dreams.” Nacuqu said rugby is his life­line now and he knows that even though he may not be smart aca­dem­i­cally, he will make up for it in the rugby field. “This is the path I chose. I do not know what God’s plans are for me but I be­lieve He will make things hap­pen for me in His own time,” Nacuqu said. Even on his break from rugby, Nacuqu still goes for his usual gym work-out twice daily. “I do my own train­ing morn­ing and af­ter­noon to keep in shape and keep fit.” Nacuqu said the team was sched­uled to start train­ing in July for the Dubai 7s to be held 30 Novem­ber to 2 De­cem­ber this year, the Rugby 7s World Cup to be held on 20-22 July in San Fran­cisco next year and the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games on 4-15 April next year in Aus­tralia. “I am plan­ning to train very hard and give it my all so that I can be part of the rugby 7s team that will rep­re­sent Fiji to these very im­por­tant sport­ing events,” he said. “I missed out on mak­ing the team to the Rio Olympics and I will do my best not to miss out on these events.”

‘I do not know what God’s plans are for me, but i be­lieve He will make things hap­pen for me in His own time.’

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