Fiji Kula girls and Ba goalkeeper Mereseini Waqali clinched the golden glove award at the Women’s Inter District Championship after beating Labasa 4-2 in a pulsating final at Prince Charles Park in Nadi yesterday.
Waqali told FijiLive that she is following in the footsteps of her cousin and rugged national and Lautoka defender Antonio Tuivuna.
She said that Tuivuna inspired her to play football and always motivates her to give her a shot on and off the pitch.
“The credit to this award should go to Tony Tuivuna.”
“I always saw him play football and I started to follow his game when I was small.”
“My parents told me that I should also try playing football and I started off with playing defender and goalkeeper.”
“Whenever he visits us, he advises me that the negative remarks from people should not let me down. Take it as motivation, learn from the mistakes and move forward.”
“He gives me strategies on how I can become a good defender and I also look at his skills and learn from his game.”
“The last time he came, I told him that I got selected for the national team as a goalkeeper and stand-by defender, and he was happy. He told me to train hard and also showed me the tactics of a good defender.”
The 18-year-old who also scooped the Golden glove award in the Digicel Secondary School IDC said weight was a struggle she encountered in her football journey.
“I started playing football at 14 and was part of the main Ba women’s team. I used to play defender but my weight didn’t match me so I had to work hard and go on a healthy diet.”
“Know for us Fijians, we like eating dalo, cassava and heavy meals so I had to let go of that but I think it was good.”
“It allowed me to come in good form and just last year I was called into the national team squad and the coach told me to play goalkeeper. They said I had fast hand movement and it was good.”
“I have been given enough game times and playing for the Fiji team at this age, I feel that I’m growing. Like my football is going on another level and I’m really happy about that.”
The Toge in Ba lass has eyed to be part of the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands next year while striking the right balance between football and education.
“Next is the Pacific Games with the national team. I’m looking forward to that.”
“I’m really looking forward to that and I know it’s not going to be easy. I still have a lot to improve on but again I’m looking forward to my education.”
“I’m in year 13 so I want to attend university next year and sometimes it’s difficult to balance both things. Like I love football but I have my education as well.”
“These whole two weeks we have been in camp and our exams are this week. So daily after the training sessions, we just pick up our books and start studying for the exams. It’s been really challenging and now I’m just focused on my studies,” she added.