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From Fiji Times Online (7 April 2009)

Lusi puts school aside for Fiji and netball

By Francis Whipphy

Lusi Yakapo
Lusi Yakapo

PATRIOTISM is hard to come by these days, especially with everyone out to get themselves the best that is out there.

Australia-based mid-court netball pla-yer, Lusi Yakapo, says she was happy to sacrifice a year from her schooling to train and play for her beloved home country.

Yakapo grew up in Fiji and attended Levuka Public School until her family migrated to Australia in 1997 where she then attended Monterey High School in Victoria. Now 20 years of age, she wants to give something in return to her home country and playing to the best of her ability in the game that she loves.

Her father hails from Rotuma and her mum is from the bountiful island of Gau. She has three sisters and a brother and is the second child.

"I miss my family so much but it is great being here in Fiji and the training keeps me occupied most of the times. I guess this is a stepping stone for me in leaving the nest," said Yakapo.

The Under-21 centre is living with her aunt and uncle in Suva and is always available for training with the other team members.

She has dreams of becoming a nurse and was to attend a nursing institute in Cranbourne, Melbourne, but opted to represent Fiji in Netball.

"I am so glad I chose to play for Fiji, I have had so much fun and experienced so much since I arrived. The team have bonded in such a great way, we all like sisters and when we are not together we are calling or texting each other," said Lusi.

"Melissa (Walker, national coach) has moved up a notch at training and is really tough with us and is working us to the maximum. She is really hard and strict but she is what we need."

Lusi and the team recently returned from their tour to New Zealand and she says that it was good experience, especially for a team that had just been assembled a few months ago.

"We played well and to our best. New Zealand practically killed us and I am glad to say we gave South Africa a run for their money in our first game together where we won but lost in the second game. I must say that South Africa was a very rough team and I was amazed at just how well the girls controlled their anger especially with the South African girls shoving, poking and pushing. But we got through coming out with blisters, bruises and scratches but it was a blast," said Yakapo.

Lusi loves every bit of Fiji saying it is so much greener and fresh. But with the current water cuts Yakapo has to make a lot of new adjustments to suit the situation.

"I had my first bucket bath for the first time in my life and it was so funny, I don't know how I even did it," she said with a laugh.

She says she still has to get used to communicating in Fijian with the other girls, but is certain she can handle it.

"My Fijian is quite rusty and when we are on the court the first language for the girls is normally Fijian mixed with English and I get confused but I am working on it."

Yakapo will be in Fiji until the end of the year and is looking forward to the tour to Australia in June.