Ba Football Association Facebook
22 September 2012
TRIBUTE: KELEMEDI "Cheetah" Vosuga was one of the reasons why the Lautoka Blues were unstoppable in the mid 80s.
He won all three trophies on offer by Fiji Football Association back then — the Battle of the Giants, Inter-district Championship and the National Football League.
The creative midfielder's first taste of success in the top flight came in the 1984 NFL. That was followed up by the 1984 IDC title following their 2-0 triumph over Ba at Churchill Park.
He scored the opening goal in the 1985 BOG final against Rewa in Suva and two more goals by Sam Work and Epeli "Kosa" Raganivatu gave the Blues their first and only BOG crown to date.
"We had some very good players and with seniors like John Monday and the late Gopal Krishna guiding us, we jelled very well as a team," says Vosuga, who was visiting revaltives in Fiji earlier this week.
Now based in Australia, the man with uncanny skills in his heydays, believes having a good set of officials put them in good stead.
"The team was a very disciplined one unlike what is happening with Lautoka now," he says.
"We had authoritative people like the no-nonsense Mike Thoman and Inspector Jahir Khan as coach and manager, so you can imagine the stronghold they had over us."
Vosuga, from Topline in Lautoka, Monday, Work, Raganivatu, Upendra Choy, Jeremaiah Ladawa, Niko Lilo were some of the big names of that golden Lautoka era.
Vosuga also featured for Lautoka with his brothers Wame "Macha" and Jimmy, whose son Sekove Tama also played for Lautoka and the national team.
Jimmy and the late Wame went on to play for Rewa.
Vosuga was a key player in the Fiji team in the mid 80s and featured prominently in wins over New Zealand 2-0, in the first of two Test series in 1983, and English side Newcastle 3-1 at Prince Charles Park in which he scored two goals and his Blues teammate Work got the third.
"Those are memorable moments," Vosuga remembers.
"We had an awesome Fiji team that included players like Abdul Mannan, Mohammed Salim, Tony Kabakoro, the late Josaia Tubuna, Jone Nakosia, Bale Raniga, Rusiate Waqa and Savenaca Waqa.
"These were players that loved football, were good ball players and had a lot of pride for their districts and country."
Vosuga said district matches, especially those between Ba and Lautoka, Lautoka and Nadi and Nadi and Ba, were often hotly contested.
"We would give it everything during the matches and, at times, there were fights as well, mostly when we played Ba," he says.
"Neither team wanted to lose. We both had big name players. Ba had Raniga, Semi Tabaiwalu, Nakosia, Tubuna, Meli Vuilabasa and Inia Bola."
There was no love lost on the field of play.
"Otherwise we were good mates and mostly enjoyed a beer or two together after the matches."
Vosuga said back then there wasn't much cash incentive on offer but they were happy with what they got.
"For me, I wanted to play my way overseas," he says.
"That was always at the back of my head."
His dream came true as he pursued a contract in Australia and has since made that country his home.
Vosuga though is very disappointed with the state of Lautoka football.
He says he can't understand as to why the Blues were now contracting players from as far as Nigeria.
"I am sure we have so many talented reps within the district," he says.
"That's why I wanted to watch the club games but was told that there haven't been club games held for sometime now.
"How can you breed players without having club games?"
Vosuga wants to see a lot more local players securing contracts overseas with the view to playing in the big leagues abroad.
"We have to focus on the younger players and try and get them out of the country at the very first opportunity. That is their life, their bread and butter," he reasons.
"It's no use trying to hold back players to help districts win tournaments when you know that at the end of the day.
"They will go back to their villages, drink kava and waste their life once their football career is over."
He wants to see Lautoka rise to the top again and picks "Raymond Singh, of Islands Electric Wholesalers" as the top man for the Blues job.
"He (Raymond) knows how to keep the players happy. A lot has to do with the players' welfare. That's first and foremost. You keep them happy. They will give you the results."
How's that for a tip from the wizard who knew how to get results for both district and country in the mid 80s.