August 31, 2021
Olympic gold medalist and robust Fiji 7s forward Asaeli Tuivuaka says his mother’s struggle and sacrifices have always pushed him to do better in life and he gives full credit for his recent success to nobody else but his mum Vitarina Cakaunivalu.
The ‘Tank’ in an interview with FijiLive said going into the Olympics, he reflected on the struggles his mother faced in bringing him up.
At the age of 14, after his dad’s death, Tuivuaka’s mother was the sole breadwinner of the family and played two roles at once.
“My upbringing was not easy, especially when I was a boy and my father passed away. It was really hurtful to me and my mum because he never allowed us to work but took the family burden on himself. He treated my mum like a queen and never allowed me to do any work.”
“But after he went, my mum took the family’s entire responsibility and was my mum and dad. She struggled a lot in raising me and my siblings. I saw the tiredness on her face when she returned home from a hard day at farm.”
“She took our burden but never complained to us. Early in the morning she used to wake up and make our breakfast, lunch and prepare us for school. And then did the house chores and missed her meals just to work on the farm to get food on our table.”
“One day, when we did not have enough money for my school fees, I saw the huge sadness on her face. She borrowed money from her family so that we could have new books, bags, and shoes for school. That was the day I vowed to myself and said Asaeli, ``you have to repay her one day with the biggest joy and I managed to make that dream come true.”
The Nakavika, Namosi native's sporting career began with Kaji rugby but circumstances did not allow him to study further.
However, the light at the end of the tunnel came with his uncle and former Fiji 7s star Setefano Cakau who gave him the rugby grind.
“When the doors closed in life and I was also struggling, my uncle Setefano Cakau saw potential in me and he helped me out a lot. He taught me the tactics of rugby. He saw me good at wings and forwards because of my psychic level. He brought me out of my comfort zone and took me on the field where the actual 7s is played.”
“I was called into the Wardens team when I was 19-years old and from there I never looked back. I was determined because I knew that rugby would give me success and the injuries motivated me to give my best. I just kept trying and from there I started to assist and support my mum.”
“Even during my actual rugby start off, she was always there as my pillar of strength. I never hide anything from her and one day when I did not get a chance to play at the local tournament, I called her and cried. She listened to me and prayed and then in the next tournament I was chosen in the team and we won the tournament.”
“Whatever I have achieved in life through rugby is all because of her. In my childhood, if she didn’t allow me to play then I don’t know where I would have been. My journey to the Olympics was tough but also good lessons and experience came along my way. It’s just that I never lost trust in God because he drove me to the right path and I took off the wheels,” he added.
By Romeka Romena