Representing Fiji at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship has been a dream come true for Vodafone Fiji U16 rep Ulita Alfred, but the 14-year-old defender’s journey has come with a lot of sacrifice.
Born and raised in Labasa on the island of Vanua Levu, Alfred was the only player in the squad to come from outside Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.
Her only chance at making the team required uprooting her life – leaving her friends, family and school – and moving south to Suva to join her teammates in camp for three months.
“I joined camp in Suva in the second week of holidays after the first term ended,” she said.
“It was hard moving to a new city and changing schools – I miss playing with my sisters and having fun with them – but I know with my mum there with me, I could do it.”
Making the big move was scary for Alfred at first but having the full support of her family and a welcoming team has helped with the transition and motivated Alfred to keep chasing her dream.
“My family were really happy when I made the team and they have been very supportive,” she said.
“I’m also very happy to be a part of this team. They’re so fun and it is so good being here. They have become my sisters.”
Fiji had proved a strong side in the competition, topping Group B with one draw and two wins but unfortunately bowed out of the semi-final going 2-4 against New Caledonia.
Alfred was proud to be a part of the talented player as she made he debut against New Caledonia in semi-final.
“It was tough trying to get into the top 20 team but I made it and I’m very proud to be here,” she said.
“I’m very happy we have made the semi-final and were undefeated in the pool stages.
Alfred aims to continue in her football career and represent the country in the senior women’s team.
‘I know have another year to play in the U16 championship and the experience and exposure we got from this tournament would be an advantage for us as most of us were only 14 years.