mailife

Simple does it for Nasoko

- By PHOEBE SCHENK Photos by IVAMERE ROKOVESA

He was once one of countless other Fijian boys playing rugby on the beach, with a coconut or anything else they could find. Now Kalione Nasoko proudly wears the Vodafone 7s jersey, having not only having won the 2015-16 World Series, but also being named one of the best players in the world. He scored twice in the final to earn him ‘Man of the Match’ and a nomination for ‘Best Rookie’. The Waya Levu villager from the Yasawas has come a long way from makeshift rugby balls, but the star fullback ‘still feels normal’. “I go back to my village on weekends to spend time with my family and socialise with friends, which helps.” Spearfishi­ng and diving, alongside hearty servings of fish in lolo characteri­se a typical weekend back at home, he said. But balancing this with his achievemen­ts is surely a mammoth task because of the extremely swift rise to fame of the 26 year old since being spotted by former 7s coach Ben Ryan at a tournament in Nacula, Nasoko. He had left school at Form 6 and become a hotel worker at a resort in Botaira Beach and the national squad was just a pipedream Nasoko had since his early teens. Like many others, he distinctly recalls watching the 2005 Hong Kong final and idolising Waisale Serevi who led the team to victory…“the way he approaches the game…his passion and dedication I’ve always admired.” Nasoko, too, is relentless in his drive and knows full well that wearing the 7s shirt is no guarantee. “You have to keep on striving, keep on fighting. There are a lot of good players in Fiji…it may be the first time you wear the shirt, but it might also be the last.” Next season is no snap for Nasoko. He is committed to training four days a week as the 2018 Rugby World Cup in San Francisco next July and upcoming Commonweal­th Games in April present some of the greatest opportunit­ies for the young player. ‘It’s my aim to make the squad for the World Cup, but it’s also my biggest challenge. I’m up against some of the best players from last year’s Olympic squad, and we’ve all come to fight for a place.”Against such tough competitio­n, Nasoko feels the most pressure is to impress his family. “I am here to represent my family, especially my grandparen­ts, because they brought me up.” After his parents divorced, Nasoko and his two younger sisters were raised by their father’s parents. They were continuall­y supportive of his dream to

 ??  ?? Nasoko relaxing in Tuvu, Lautoka.
Nasoko relaxing in Tuvu, Lautoka.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji