Rising up against the odds
THE death of three special people propelled nippy playmaker Lemeki Tulele to work hard to achieve his childhood dream — to represent Fiji — and now he relishes the opportunity to showcase his talent for his loved ones at the Singapore 7s this weekend.
The First Light Taveuni player is still trying to come to terms with his selection into the Vodafone Fiji 7s team after he was named to fill the big shoes of Olympics gold medallist Vatemo Ravouvou.Tulele was in Class One when his dad passed away, his mum passed away one year later and was raised by his uncle (dad’s brother) early in life.
Five years later, Tulele suffered another tragedy with the passing away of his uncle. Since then has been raised by his aunt (late uncle’s) wife Meresiana Sovalaka.
The 26-year-old said he endured a lot in life, but he used those difficult moments as beacon of hope to achieve better things in life.
And like most iTaukei children growing up in the village and settlements, Tulele’s childhood dream was to represent the Fiji rugby.
He said the death of his parents and uncle motivated him to work hard and was grateful to have fulfilled his ultimate rugby goal.
“I faced a lot of challenges early in life, but it did not deter me from working hard to be the person I am today,” said Tulele in Sigapore yesterday.
“At first I was unsure of what to do after losing my parents and uncle, but I didn’t want to give up.
“I started playing rugby during my primary school days and it has been my dream to represent the country.
“Early this week as I was lying in bed in our hotel room in Singapore, I could not control my emotions recalling the heartaches and the struggle I endured early in life.
“I believe it was this humble upbringing helped me to achieve my dream”
Tulele said he was grateful to have a supporting aunt who had been supporting his rugby career.
He said he would dedicate his first Fiji 7s outing to his aunt on Taveuni. The former Holy Cross College student said he was also looking forward to showcase his 7s talents for his loved ones in Taveuni.
“I know the people of Taveuni will be eagerly waiting to watch my game on the big screen and I want to make them proud.
“This is the moment I have been waiting for and I will give my best shot to make them proud.
“Most importantly is to dedicate my first Fiji outing to my aunty Mereseini.”
Tulele made his break in rugby after being named the Mana Whey Coral Coast 7s Best Player early this year where he helped his First Light Taveuni team win the tournament.
He later secured a rugby contract in Sri Lanka, but only spent few weeks there after being named in the Fiji 7s extended squad.
Last week he played a huge role for the French Club Bordeaux to win the Hong Kong 10s competition.
The Taveuni dalo farmer said he would lay his body on the line for Fiji and the people of Taveuni.