As captain of the Vanuatu squad competing at the OFC U-20 Championship in Suva, Fiji Ruben hopes he can motivate his side to victory in what will be their toughest, and most crucial, match of the tournament so far.
Vanuatu currently sit two points behind hosts Fiji, with a win in their encounter at 5pm set put them in good stead for the title.
Ruben says Vanuatu have been working incredibly hard under coach Etienne Mermer and his assistant Anthony Pisano and couldn’t want this title more.
“We won the first match, drew the second and won our third, but all the time we are working hard,” Ruben explains.
“In my role as captain I have to talk to the players and encourage them. I talk to them about the physical and the spiritual every night before we go to bed.”
While he says it can at times be trying to consolidate his role as captain with his performance on the field he gives his all to both roles 100 per cent.
“I keep encouraging the other players to remain focused. I’ve told them I want to win this tournament and to do that they need to be strong mentally.
“It’s easy to get discouraged and put your head down when results don’t go your way – even I am guilty of that at times – but we are close to one another and together we can achieve what we are aiming for.”
Currently plying his trade with his village team Erakor Golden Star Ruben was a star of the 2013 OFC U-17 Championship held in Santo, Vanuatu.
He says following that competition he was drafted to Nayland College in Nelson where he furthered his education while continuing his football.
“I went there with Jaison Thomas, and we learnt a lot during our time,” he recalls.
“As well as playing in New Zealand, we went on a tour with the team to Australia and Singapore which was a great experience and just made me want to play more football.”
Ruben says he would love to head back to New Zealand in the near future, and has had a few offers from clubs which he is considering, but says for now his head is here in Suva.
“I can’t lose focus of our objective here at the tournament. We have a job to do, but we can only do it as a team.”
Vanuatu take on hosts Fiji in what could be the competition decider at 5pm at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji.