High school exams wedged in between nights at training camps, his 18th birthday spent in Doha surrounded by Oceania’s top male footballers and sharing a room with his childhood idol.
It’s been a big few months for Fiji’s Nabil Begg.
The versatile Ba FC midfielder is the youngest player in the Fijian squad, having celebrated his 18th birthday on March 17 at the team hotel.
He describes being named in the national team as “maybe the best moment of my life”, travelling out of Fiji for the first time to the modern beauty of Doha as “crazy” and says rooming with Fijian great Roy Krishna is “a dream come true”.
“It’s a dream, no doubt, when I was in form three I took a picture of Roy when he visited my school. There was a huge line but I somehow managed to get to the front and get a picture with him!
“He’s a role model for everyone in our country. I’m very thankful I get to room with him.”
The oldest child and only son in a family of four, Begg’s father is a high-ranking Police officer in Fiji who has always encouraged him to focus on his goals.
That perhaps goes some way to explaining Begg’s rapid rise to stardom after only taking up competitive football for the first time at age 11.
“My father has been the main person behind my sport. He has encouraged me at every step,” he says.
“He is always guiding me. He’s always encouraging me – he says I have reached a great place at a young age, but he keeps me humble too.”
Earlier this year on the day the Fijian squad was named, Begg took the day off school to watch on from his home, still having no idea whether or not he would make the cut.
“My mother was washing the dishes, it was 11 o’clock in the morning, and I told my mother ‘come, sit down with me, let’s watch the TV’.
“When the naming came on she was hugging me. They named it in order of position, so I knew I would be in the midfield or up front if I was named.
“The midfield was named and then the TV said ‘and the youngest player in the squad’ and my mother burst into tears. It was a great experience.
“My father didn’t know, so I called him, but by the time I got to him someone had already called him.
“He said ‘you have made me really proud’ and that moment was maybe the best moment of my life.
“Putting a big smile on my parents’ faces; that’s a dream come true.
On top of efforts to earn a ticket to Qatar, Begg had to balance his studies alongside football through the back end of last year and the start of 2022, which included navigating his annual exams while in national team camp.
The daily routine would see him attend school during the day, train with the squad at night and then sleep in camp before doing it all again the following day.
His strategy to get through included regular chats with fellow national trialist-turned-teammate Ashnil Raju, who is a teacher in Fiji.
“During camp he was doing his final examinations and he would always come to me for advice. He was taking a subject I teach (technical drawing), so I was helping him where I could,” Raju says.
“He wants to become an engineer, so that subject is very important for him.
“He’s a smart kid. His IQ is very high. He knows most of the things you tell him.”
Come April it will be back to school with attention turning to making sure he can attend university in the future, but for the next two weeks Begg will be soaking up every moment of the once-in-a-lifetime experience the 2022 edition of the Oceania Qualifiers has presented him.