Semi's tough days
AS a youngster, Vodafone national sevens forward Semi Kunatani idolised Waisale Serevi and Vereniki Goneva and even endured a 40-minute horse ride to a house near his village of Naveyago, Navosa, just to watch sevens matches on television.
Kunatani, known as the “Beast” went through hardship and heartache which moulded him into one of the best and most fearless players on the sevens circuit.
At the age of 17, his mother died and he had to quit school to assist his father in the farm for their daily survival.
And it was those trying times that shaped Kunatani’s destiny.
In an interview with this newspaper in Singapore yesterday, Kunatani said it was his humble upbringing that enabled him to reach this far.
He said during his childhood days he had set a dream to become a national rep.
“During my childhood days I used to have posters of Fijian players such as Serevi, Goneva in my room,” said Kunatani.
“Seeing them every day always inspired me to work hard.
“When there was a rugby game shown on TV, I used to ride a horse some 40 minutes away from the village to watch the game at the home of a Fijian of Indian descent because there was no power in the village.
“Rugby was in my blood.”
Last weekend in Hong Kong, Kunatani showed his attacking potency and was named the best player in the final.
He outperformed all players at the Hong Kong 7s tournament with five tries, 10 tackles, seven breaks, 11 offloads and 22 carries.
“I toiled the land nearly every day to help my dad and those days in the farm were a good form of training,” he said.
“It was this upbringing that helped me to reach this far and I thank my dad and all back home for their support.”
Kunatani said the support of his loved ones always motivated him to play well.
“Every time I run on to the field, I know all the people in the village are watching me so I have to make them proud,” he said.
The France-based player said he was happy to fulfil his dream and especially to secure an overseas contract to improve his family’s standard of living.