August 30, 2021
Fijiana playmaker and Olympic Games bronze medal winner Viniana Riwai was a accorded a traditional welcome by the vanua of Labasa at Nasekula Village today.
Riwai's family and well wishers took to the road to welcome her as she completed her 4-days of quarantine and was discharged by Ministry of Health officials.
There was an air of excitement as the chant “Go Vini Go” was heard from every corner of the village as Police provided escort to the dual international who has also represented Fiji in football.
Her mother Marisela Riwai was in tears as she stood by the procession with her husband Viliame.
“I have only heard about this kind of welcome and to witness it for the first time and for it to be accorded to my daughter is such an honour,” Riwai said.
“I would like to thank the people of Labasa as a whole for a welcome that is so great. My daughter’s achievement on the biggest sporting stage has gifted our family like never before."
"The accomplishment was not an easy feat as she had to put in the hard yards in training, sacrifice and balanced her personal life and family time with her rugby commitments," she said.
Tui Labasa Ratu Jone Qomate who was also part of the reception hopes Fijiana's achievement in the Olympics will encourage more women to take up the sport and end the stigma and discrimination.
"Many marvel at the gutsy performance of Riwai. She comes from a long line of traditional warriors," he said.
“Their bronze win at the Rio Olympic Games was evident that this trait still survives. She has made the Vanua proud.
"The family will never forget July 30 when their eldest daughter joined an elite group of 13 female players winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympic Games," he said.
By Nacanieli Tuilevuka