Growing up as a child Fiji midfielder Ivan Kumar could only dream of putting on the national jersey for his country at international level.
But his dream became reality when he was called up by former national team coach Christopher Gamel to join the U-23 team.
The 22-year-old reminisced of his early days playing in primary school competitions.
Hailing from a football-playing family, Kumar was encouraged by his brothers to strive for the best, hoping that one day his opportunity will come.
“I started my football career from primary school as my brothers motivated me to play football,” he said.
“It was a big opportunity for me as I have come from primary school, then secondary school was a big exposure for me where I got to show some of my good skills and my level of of playing football.
“When I started in the youth teams I got a big opportunity for the district teams and I came up in te Suva district team.
“Fom there I got the chance to be selected for the U-23 Fiji national team,” Kumar remembered.
Currently playing for Suva FC in the Vodafone Premier League, the towering midfielder insists that making the national team is by far his biggest achievement to date.
Former national team coach, Christoper Gamel played a major role in the career of many young Fijian players and Kumar was one of the raw talents discovered by the Frenchman.
“I would like to thank Christoper Gamel for selecting me for the trials,” he explained.
“I gave my best then to our current coach Marika Rodu, who has given me a better chance to be part of this Fiji U-23 team.
“My best achievement so far is playing in the Fiji U-23 national team,” said Kumar.
“I’ve never played in any other national teams before and I am grateful and happy that my dreams are coming through, and for wearing this national team jersey,” he added.
Kumar also dreams of one day following in the footsteps of Fiji star Roy Krishna and succeed outside of Fiji.
The hosts have represented Oceania at the last Olympics in Rio and Kumar believes they have the team to qualify again on home soil.
He knows it will be a huge challenge against New Zealand but the midfielder remains optimistic about his side’s chances in Wednesday’s semi-final at the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier at Lautoka’s Park in Lautoka.
“We have a good set of boys, the spirit is there we know we’re going to do it.
“Playing on Wednesday will not be easy because it’s on our home soi,l it will be a big pressure but we will be ready for it,” Kumar inisted.