Dare to Dream
‘IMPOSSIBLE is not a fact - it is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration - it is a dare. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.’
These are the words of wisdom inked on the wrists of 23-year old Bulou Salaseini Lelevakawalu Mataitoga. For Mataitoga life comes with challenges in many forms, with many faces. She motivates herself with life quotes on her body to remind her that life is worth it and so is she. The Lakeba villager from Lau who now lives in California was in the country last month playing rugby for the Striders Women’s team.
“Sadly I did not go to Lakeba because I left Fiji when I was six years old,” Mataitoga said. “I had just started primary school in Suva when my parents decided to migrate to the United States and I have been there since.” The young woman heard about the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast 7s 2018 tournament via the internet – and proudly became part of it. “It’s a pretty famous tournament and I had met Fiji national women’s rugby rep Talica Vodo, who also plays for Striders.” “I played for the US Women’s team in Dubai, Vegas and Japan and I met Vodo there. We discussed the possibility
of playing for Striders during the MWFCC 7s.” she said. Mataitoga also plays rugby for her local club Berkeley All Blues in the fly-half or centre position. As a first timer to the MWFCC7s tournament, Mataitoga found she likes the way rugby is played in Fiji. “It is less structured to how we play back in America. It’s more free and that’s what I like about it. I like the happy attitude on the field, like if we make a mistake during game time, its ok and we carry on. “Fiji has a style of play where the game flows compared to how we play in the US. I enjoy it probably because it’s different and sometimes learning something different is good.” Mataitoga came to Fiji with her parents to celebrate her grandfather’s 80th birthday and decided to extend her stay so she could be part of the rugby fest in Sigatoka. “My parents left but I told them I would be in this tournament, so I think they were watching me play via livestream.” She said her parents are worried with her involvement with rugby because it is a contact sport. “I have an older brother Vuli and there is just the two of us. My parents often wonder why I chose rugby when my brother doesn’t have any interest at all in the sport that is normally referred to as a ‘man’s game’.” “During my first game, I broke my cheek bone and then my tibula so yeah, they are just worried about my health. But I always remind them that it is all part of the game.” Although playing in the national USA Women’s Rugby Team, Mataitoga said she would be honoured to represent Fiji because this is where she was born. “If called upon for national duties to represent Fiji in women’s rugby, I would gladly do so without a doubt,” she said. With the experience she gained during last month’s MWFCC7s tournament, Mataitoga now hopes to make an annual trip to Fiji timed for the tournament. She and her family already travel to Fiji for Christmas and New Year every year and since the MWFCC 7s is scheduled after New Year, she intends to stay longer each trip to be part of the next rugby fiesta. In California Mataitoga drives an Uber car. Uber is a technology platform that connects driver-partners and customer-riders by smartphone app. The service is become immensely popular in many countries. “Uber lists all its locally available cars at the tap of a button and intending riders select the most appropriate one nearby. There is no need to try and hail a cab from the curb.” Apart from her work, rugby is the next best thing for Mataitoga, and she also loves her tattoos. She said they reminded her that life is worth living and help her tackle each day as it comes. “I don’t show off my tattoos because they are more for me than for other people.” However another that caught our eye was located on her left wrist and reads: ‘Surround yourself with dreamers and doers. The thinkers and believers. But mostly those who see greatness within you.’ “This saying motivates me to choose wisely the company I keep because my friends or those whom I associate with shape me to become the person I am,” she said. “The quotes give me confidence and determination in reaching my life goals.”
Mataitoga with the Iri Trophy the Striders Women’s team won during the MWFCC 7s.
Mataitoga shows off some of her tattoos
Family is everything. Mataitoga with her grandparents and cousins at their Nadera home.
Mataitoga relaxing at her Nadera home.
Mataitoga with her Striders Team that took part during the MWFCC 7s.