Representing her country at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship has been a dream come true for Fiji’s 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 is 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 have proved a strong side so far in the competition, topping Group B with one draw and two wins to see them through to the semi-final this Tuesday.
Although the young substitute is yet to take the field for her country, Alfred is proud to be a part of the talented mix and has full faith in her side challenging New Caledonia for a place in the final – especially with her waiting in the wings.
“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. I know we can win this game. I believe we can win against New Caledonia.”
Fiji will play New Caledonia in the semi-final of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship at J.S. Blatter Football Complex in Apia, Samoa, on 15 August at 8pm (WST).