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Lice leading Fijian goalkeepers

Lice Waqailiti, left, with OFC's James Bannatyne and Emma Evans.

From youngsters learning their craft to senior national team members, Lice Waqailiti helps them all in her role as Goalkeeping Development Officer for the Fiji Football Association.

It’s a valuable position and something that keeps her busy as she conducts coaching sessions in seven districts across the country.

Grassroots is always an important phase of football development and Waqailiti conducts training exercises for boys and girls from 10 years old through to senior men’s and women’s players.

“My involvement with the individuals is set by various methods based on their goalkeeping knowledge and then how they respond to the sessions from introductory to complex sessions,” she said.

Long-term she has a clear vision for what is required in Fijian goalkeeping.

“I want to improve goalkeeper performance at national and international level across men and women and also create an effective coach education programme for goalkeeping.”

Fiji has plenty of growth potential in the goalkeeping space and 14 participants, including Waqailiti, attended the OFC Goalkeeping C Licence coaching course in Fiji in late 2019.

The course was led by OFC Goalkeeping Development Consultant James Bannatyne and provided goalkeeping coaches with new experiences while preparing them to adapt to new challenges through a principle-centric approach.

Waqailiti also has extensive playing experience and was a member of Fiji’s national team that played in the OFC Women’s Nations Cup in 2010.

The 33-year-old, who resides in Nasinu, still turns out for the Nasinu women’s team.

Perhaps her most notable student is Fijian national men’s team custodian Beniamino Mateinaqara who received the Golden Glove award during last year’s Fiji Football Association Cup Tournament as Suva completed a domestic double to go alongside their Vodafone Premier League title.

Mateinaqara is an experienced shot-stopper and has attended three OFC Nations Cups for Fiji, while collecting a range of domestic accolades.

Suva goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara. Photo Credit: Fiji FA Media

Waqailiti said the 33-year-old still had plenty of football left in him.

“Ben has improved both his agility as a keeper and also contributed immensely to his team’s overall performance.

“Now moving towards the end of his playing career I believe Ben has still got what it takes to perform at the top end of competition locally while pushing for continued national team selection.”

Bannatyne said he was impressed with Waqailiti’s ambitious nature.

“One of the first courses I conducted for OFC was in Fiji where Lice stated she wanted my job, which was certainly encouraging,” Bannatyne said.

“Lice has bought into OFC’s philosophy of goalkeeping development where we compete together to perform better.

“It has been very positive to see Lice’s work in Fiji’s goalkeeping development and the results of her work is clear, particularly on the women’s side. Fijian football and their standard of goalkeeping will only continue to improve in the future.”

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