Former Fiji U16 football goalkeeper Ilisoni Koro is turning heads in 7s rugby and appeared for the Ba Originals Youth at the recent Coral Coast 7s in Sigatoka.
The 17-year-old shared his experience of juggling both sports with FijiLive and said he works on striking the right balance.
“I play both, so when the soccer season starts, I play that, and when the rugby season starts, I switch. Rugby fitness is more challenging than soccer, but I’ve played and represented Fiji internationally in soccer, whereas for rugby, it’s all about local competitions, which are quite challenging in Fiji.”
The youngster from Wailotua village in Wainibuka, Tailevu helped the club secure the Shield Trophy in their first appearance at Coral Coast 7s and team manager Eroni Navunicagi praised Koro’s versatility and discipline.
“He started playing rugby in primary school and continued in Xavier College, where he’s currently studying. He’s a very good player, disciplined but shy.”
Navunicagi, who has been monitoring Koro’s progress since his days in Kaji Rugby, believes in his potential.
“We’ve groomed him to be a better player, and his talents in both soccer and rugby are all because of his hard work.”
Navunicagi also highlighted the personal challenges Koro faced, including the loss of his mother and the partial loss of vision in his right eye due to an accident when he was five years old.
“His mother passed away last year, which deeply affected him. He had stopped training for a couple of months, but now he has continued with both rugby and soccer.”
Despite facing personal challenges, Koro continues to show resilience and commitment to both sports.
He was part of the Ba U20 team in the Vanua Cup and has aspirations to play more rugby in the Skipper Cup competition.