Kishan Sami’s dream to play for the Fiji national football team will become reality when he takes the field at the OFC U-17 Championship in February, but the journey has been tough for the young footballer – nearly ending before it even began.
The Ba FC striker had to put his football career on hold last year after Tropical Cyclone Winston swept through Fiji, destroying his family home in Ba.
“Last year I was in camp in Suva and my mum was in Ba,” he recalled.
“She called me and said ‘the house is dead, finished’, and I said ‘don’t worry I’m coming’.
“I asked the coaches to let me go home and assist my family and they were really fantastic, they immediately said ‘go’.
“The cyclone had destroyed the house. The roof was gone.”
After two weeks with his family, Sami returned into camp in Suva and although the road to recovery has been long, things are now looking up for the aspiring footballer.
“Now it’s ok. My house is now good, I love it,” he said.
Sami credits football for helping him stay strong through Cyclone Winston’s aftermath, providing him solace through the tough times.
“It is my life. Football is my life,” he said.
“I started playing football in 2006 for Ba U-12 and then I grew up and I trained hard and now I’m playing in the Fiji team.
“Playing in the Fiji team and Ba Youth and all the teams, it’s helped me through this.”
Sami now has his eyes on the future, looking to follow in the footsteps of his inspiring uncles, all former internationals, and represent Fiji at the senior level.
“After the U-17 I want to play for the national team. I want to keep going,” he said.
“My uncles, three uncles, Krishna Sami, Arjun Pillay and Shiu Sami, they played in the Fiji team and Ba team,” he said.
“They inspire me to keep going.”
Sami will represent Fiji in the OFC U-17 Championship in Tahiti, kicking off 9 February. The side will face competition favourites New Zealand as well as Samoa and Solomon Islands in the group stage, but Sami is confident in his team’s ability and excited to cause an upset.
“I’m going to go and give 100 per cent,” he said.
“We have New Zealand in our pool and I’m looking forward to the game – New Zealand and Fiji. It is going to be an amazing experience.”