The 2017 Courts Inter District Championship had everything. It had a great venue, fantastic response from soccer loving fans of close to 30,000 going through the gates in five days, a marked improvement of the standard of the game shown by the teams in both grades, yellow cards, red cards, content match officials , the atmosphere, brilliant weather and two well-deserved winners.
Congratulations to both Nadroga and Design Engineering Lautoka for collecting the main prizes.
It has been a while since the Coral Coast boys won a major tournament. Old memories were rekindled when they finally did by beating Navua 2-1 in the senior final. Captain Tomasi Tuicakau and his players showed superb fitness level in a midday kickoff to claw their way back from a goal down to clinch the senior title.
Hats off to coach Kaminieli Tuilawaki and his officials for their leadership off the field and the players for showing the true ‘Hakwa Nadro’ power they are renowned for and tasting success again.
Credit also to Navua for reaching the final. It was good to see Apisai Smith flying in from Auckland to join his former mates in Seveci Rakotakala and Simione Maikali making it a Navua team of the past.
And then the main final.
What a fitting finale it was. Fiji FA wouldn’t have asked for a better match up to decide the Premier winner. Two of the western giants, undefeated locking horns in front of a bumper crowd which surely is music to the ear for the parent body.
The Men in Black having failed to make the top four in the Vodafone Fiji FACT and Inkk Mobile BOG proved a different team in the five day tourney.
The young players are quickly showing maturity being involved in high intensity games such as the IDC final. Though not claiming the pretigious title they are so fond of, the team has gained valuable experience and should be back in amongst the winners circle come the next tournament.
And as for winners, Lautoka Blues, they transformed their clear favourites tag on paper onto the field and showed that you should complement it with a polished performance even if it goes to the wire.
Coach Kamal Swamy should be applauded for holding together the big names and probably also learning from its BOG outing in their penalty shootout loss to Nadi. The experienced Lautoka players held their nerves when it mattered this time around and this proved the difference.
The Sugar City side wins on home soil after 2005 and 17 overall.
The Blues fans are still rejoicing and why they shouldn’t. They deserve every bit. They have survived an early scare by Flick Tavua and have waited for this moment for nine long years.
By Maika Kasami
Former Nadi and National