Saturday, 26 December 2020

TRIBUTE: A Tribute to Sashi Mahendra Singh, Manager of Ba and The Father of Ba Soccer (1920-1990).


Late SHASHI MAHENDRA SINGH...pillar of soccer

Late Mr Shashi Mahendra Singh is revered and respected in the realms of Soccer in the country. He served Ba and Fiji as a representative player during the period 1939-1954. He was elected a Vice President of the Fiji Football Association (FFA) in 1955 where he voluntarily relinquished the position in 1969. He also served as the National Coachfrom 1960-1976 with a break of two years only. This included Coach of the Fiji Team to the inaugural South Pacific Games held in Fiji in 1963 where Fiji won Silver.

Shashi was a pillar of strength for both the Ba Soccer Association and the FFA. His success as an Administrator and a Coach is reflected by the fact that he was appointed Treasurer of the Oceania Football Confederation where he served for 20 years, retiring in 1988. He had the unique distinction of being appointed Coach and Manager of a Taiwan Team and arranged for a World Cup Game to be played in Fiji between Australia and Taiwan. He was responsible for gaining recognition in FIFA for Taiwan and was awarded a gold medal by the Taiwanese Government for his support.

Shashi introduced the National League competition and created the 1st and 2nd Divisions in the Inter District Soccer Tournament. He was also instrumental in introducing the round-robin format in lieu of the knockout system. He left behind a rich legacy in Fiji Soccer with two of his sons as players and Coach for Ba and one as the National Fiji Coach for many years.

Apart from his love of Soccer, Shashi had a very colorful sporting career that included the following:
Hockey - Foundation Member (1940) and President, Ba Hockey Association; Foundation Member and Selector of Fiji Hockey Association.
Cricket - Player (1938) and Captain for Ba scoring over a century on two occasions; Player for North-Western District against MCC Team; Secretary Ba Cricket Assn, Vice President Fiji Cricket Assn; President Ba Cricket (1970) and Patron up until his death in 1990.
Tennis - Keen player having won Junior Championship of Fiji Indian LTA of which he became a Vice President.
Athletics - keen athlete who was a Foundation Member of the Ba Athletic Association and became Secretary of the Association.
Boxing & Wrestling - 8 years assistance as Ring Side referee of both Associations
Rugby - Patron of Ba Rugby Association.

In recognition of his contribution to sport in Fiji and in particular to the sport of Football both nationally and regionally FASANOC was proud to confer posthumously the FIJI OLYMPIC ORDER to the late Mr Shashi Mahendra Singh
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Richie Ryon Silicon, Rajesh Maharaj and 8 others

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

TRIBUTE: "The Star of all Stars - Josaia Tubuna!" (Lautoka, Suva, Ba, and Fiji national-team champion.)

The star of all stars - Josaia Tubuna!!!

Nadi legend Henry Dyer back at Govind Park.
JUST a week earlier, Jo Tubuna, Inia Bola and Semi Tabaiwalu had featured prominently as Ba smashed Labasa 6-0 in a National Football League match in late July 1984.
Bola scored two goals, Tubuna set up one for Isimeli Nale, and Tabaiwalu was rock solid in defence. They were three of a kind, three of a special kind in a special team. They had won just about everything there was to win in local football and were part of the all-conquering Ba side that won the Inter-district Championship an unprecedented six years in-a-row from 1975-60.

Robust Tubuna
The late Tubuna made his debut for Lautoka in 1974. He later moved to Suva in 1976 and played two seasons for the Whites before joining Ba in 1978 after being offered a job as a salesman at Ba Motor Parts.
The man from Naitasiri filled the void left by the retirement of the late Waisea Naicovu at centre back. Tubuna though was much more than just a formidable defender. He had a brilliant attacking game to add to his sound defensive qualities. He entertained local football fans for a good 10 years playing for the Men in Black and the national team.

Dark night
On Friday night, August 3, 1984, Tubuna, Bola and Tabaiwalu were in Tavua. Around midnight, the three with one Kaminieli Tora, hired a van to take them to Ba. Ten minutes into the ride, their vehicle slammed into a fully loaded parked cane lorry on the Kings Rd at Varavu. The driver Solomone Ukitu said “a vehicle coming from the Ba side had its headlights on high beam" and having passed the vehicle he "switched on his own lights to high beam and saw the parked truck just metres away”.
“The truck did not have any park lights on.” Ukitu said he swerved to the right to avoid hitting the back of the truck "but it was too late".

Tubuna tragedy
Tubuna (window side) and Bola were seated in the front alongside Ukitu and were asleep at the time of the accident. “Inia fell towards me when the van hit the truck, which is why he was saved,” Ukitu said. Tabaiwalu and Tora were at the back. Tubuna died instantly when the entire front left hand side of the van caved in from the force of the impact. Tabaiwalu, who scored Ba's winning goal in the 1980 (1-0) IDC triumph over Nadi at Govind Park, and Bola were seriously injured and admitted at the Lautoka hospital.

Shocking news
The news of Tubuna's death spread like wildfire. Fans, his mates and top officials knew that local football had lost a national treasure.
“It is a sad day for Fiji soccer. We have lost a national hero,” FFA president Hari Pal Singh said.
Henry Dyer in Ba Town near Vinod Patel office.
His former Ba and Fiji coach and employer, the late Sashi Mahendra Singh described the gentle giant best, saying he was like “a son” to him.
“He was very obedient, honest and sincere in his work. I loved him very much. He will not be easily replaced. Tubuna may have been a terror on the field, but he also commanded much respect and friendship.”
Ba mayor Kishore Govind remembered his as a “caring” footballer.
“Tubuna's death was an unnecessary waste of life,” Cr Govind said.
“He was a person who gave a lot of pleasure to the people of Ba with his performances on the field. He was dynamic, intelligent, and cared a great deal about younger players. His mastery of the game was as good as anyone in Fiji.”
Ba FA chief Vinod Patel knew what we had lost: “It's a big blow to Ba and Fiji soccer”.

5,000 mourners
Henry Dyer and Inia Bola look towards Soweri Cemetery.
On Monday, August 6, 1984, over 5000 mourners packed Govind Park for his final farewell. Led by the Tui Ba, Ratu Sakiusa Naisau, Tubuna was brought into his favourite ground for the last time. The pallbearers were his Ba and national team mates — Savenaca Waqa, Bale Raniga, Sam Work, Henry Dyer, George Samisoni and Vula Wate. His teammate Meli Vuilabasa and Singh, Ba's father of soccer, broke down and wept openly while paying their final respects. He was later buried at the Fiji Sugar Corporation Cemetery at Naidrodro. Tubuna left behind his wife Rebeka, who was pregnant at that time and five-year-old son Manasa, who went on to represent Lautoka and Tavua at district level. Bola and Tabaiwalu later recovered with the latter going on to coach Ba. That's the story of how the traditional giants of Fiji football lost their giant of all giants. As a 14-year old back then I heard of this tragedy. I heard and read of the man they said was a star of all stars, and although I did not get to see him play, I feel privileged to be able to put this piece together. This is for Manasa, his mum and family, Ba fans, past and present and Tubuna's teammates.

Thanks for the memories Jo.
[First published on 14 February 2013 on Ba Football Association Facebook page.]
Henry Dyer and Ba champion Semi Tabaiwalu, 17 June 2015.
Henry Dyer and Ba champion Meli Vuilabasa, 2 June 2015.
Ba's hardcore travelling fans. Left to Right: James, Unknown, Skull, and Ben.

Monday, 24 February 2020

NEWS: Mr Rajesh Patel meets Nadi Airport Legends Club @ Sitar Restaurant, Martintar, January 2020.

Front row:
Bimbo Ali vice Chairman, Isei Tudreu Chairman, Mr Rajesh Patel President Fiji FA, Dr. Raju President Nadi Chamber and Bobby Tikaram Club Founder. 

Back row: Saimoni Rokoderea, Emmanuel Manu, Henry Dyer, Marika Ravula Secretary, Usa Visawaga, Peter Parmesh Chand, Joe Glenn and Billy Mohd. FAROUK.

Friday, 1 November 2019

TRIBUTE: Lucky Cheetah: A Tribute to Kelemedi "Cheetah" Vosuga, Lautoka Blues & Fiji, 22/9/2012.

Lucky "Cheetah"
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.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

TRIBUTE: Happy Birthday / Get Well Soon Mr. Vivek Anand "Boy" Reddy (1969 Nadi IDC hero), April 2019.

Former players visiting a family member and a former Nadi Soccer Legend, Vivek Anand "Boy" Reddy, at Nadi Hospital, Fiji Islands. Boy Reddy played in Nadi's first IDC tournament win in 1969. Top picture L-R: Peter N. Dean, Seremaia Tale, Roland Marr, Shiva Naicker (USA). 
We wish Boy Reddy a wonderful and a very HAPPY 75th BIRTHDAY - we know you are not well and admitted in Nadi Hospital but our prayers are with you for a quick and speedy recovery - GOD BLESS YOU (by Bobby Tikaram). Pictures below: Nadi and Lautoka soccer legend Henry Dyer and soccer researcher Kieran James with Boy Reddy in June 2015.