The Fiji national team carry the weight of a nation as they prepare for tomorrow’s encounter with New Zealand, but after a visit to Jasper Williams High School in Lautoka, the team is feeling more determined than ever to do their country proud.
The Bula Boys were greeted by a swarm of screaming students in purple dresses as they walked through the all-girls school to the main hall, and French-born head coach Christophe Gamel was completely astounded by the pure passion and excitement of the young fans.
“It was incredible. To be honest I didn’t expect that. Even in Europe it’s not the same pleasure to see people so thank you to everyone for this fantastic support,” he said.
“It shows how much expectation there is. We will face the best team of Oceania, we have to be focused on this event and give our best.
“This has given us energy. A really positive energy. We are not afraid. It is our job to face this kind of game and I can’t wait now because I think the team has worked well and they will give their best tomorrow.”
Jasper Wiliams High School vice principal Shakil Chand was honoured to host the national team ahead of their New Zealand clash, and felt proud to have the all-girls school included in the promotion of the senior men’s game.
“We are really excited and happy to host the national football team. This will go down in the college’s history, hosting the national team for the first time and because this is an all-girls school. It’s going to be an incentive and really an inspiration for them,” he said.
“I believe there are a number of girls here that have hidden talents and when we have national teams of this nature coming in, these girls can be motivated to take up sport in the future and perhaps represent the country in the women’s national team one day.”
Gamel was also pleased to see the all-girls school involved in the team’s tour, and hopes the visit will inspire more opportunity and involvement for Fijian women in football.
“The world now is also for women, we forgot that before,” he said.
“I’ve worked with a professional women’s team in the past. Football is something that everyone can do. Women, men, young, old. If we support this, football can rule the world.”
Students of Jasper Williams High School will be wearing their purple uniforms with pride tomorrow as they support their national team at Churchill Park in Lautoka at 1pm, where Fiji and New Zealand will play the first of two matches for Group A in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – OFC Stage 3 qualifiers.