The Kaliopasi Uluilakepa Story Part 2
In February this year I was fortunate enough to interview Kaliopasi Uluilakepa. His story and meteoric rise from Marist Brothers to NZ U20 and signing as a young prop with Wellington Hurricanes is well documented. But underneath the glamour and pressure of living as a professional sportsman was a dark place that Kaliopasi failed to negotiate out off. It spiralled out of control and ended up with his demise from the Hurricanes.
” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your path ” Proverbs 3: 5-6
The thing that stood out about this young man was that he was humbled enough by his shortcomings to recognize his failures and wanted to share his story so that fellow Fijian aspirants didn’t make the same mistake. His journey over the last seven months is one that is inspirational and gravitates towards self – reflect, self – improve and humility. It is a story of individual growth that inspires broader societal improvements.
Kaliopasi remained wary of his shortfalls. ” Some days, I cry, I’ve had days I was sad, and I’ve had meltdowns. It’s been a really tough couple of months “. As the saying goes ” behind every successful man, is an even stronger woman “. And big Pasi is first to admit that his partner is his moral compass.Embed from Getty Images
” She’s constantly reminding me that she left her family to be with me to take the risks and follow my dreams. She is my reality check and constant reminder of the unwavering support that I get from my family ” says Pasi.
I am humbled and pray about it regularly for direction and thankful for the blessings I have around me to support my game. Trust in God to show you the way. Lean on his understanding “.
Uluilakepa’s support group extended to his new venture when moving to Northland. The close-knit brotherhood on the field and off the field allowed this behemoth of player to find a new lease of life. Playing with his fellow Fijian brother Ricks Momoedonu who also signed with the Drua and his teammates, Pasi is quick to pay tribute to their influence in helping him settle in his new environment. He gives a special mention to his coaches at Northland, in particular former Fijian frontrower Graham Dewes who has helped him develop his game.
Kaliopasi comes from a close-knit family and draws inspiration from them. ” I talk to my parents every day. My sister and my parents are the reason I wake up and do what I do. Their prayers keep me going. They are the anchors in my life ” an emotional Pasi quotes.
The powerhouse frontrower intends to repay those that trust in him. And an emotional moment for the young tighthead prop and a perfect gift for his mother s birthday today with his announcement of signing with the Drua.
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I’ve had the privilege of keeping in contact with big Pasi over the last couple of months and talking to him about higher honours and the big man shows a sense of humility in his response “I want to play for Fiji and give back to the country that have given me my first break. I want to play for the Drua and Fiji … but all in God’s time …..”
Kaliopasi has a message for all rugby aspirants
“Be yourself! Never let anyone put fear of doubt in yourself. Change your vision and your vision will change you. Trust in God and you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Well said Kaliopasi Uluilakepa. .. God has answered your prayers and your time has come.
Originally posted in the Fiji Rugby Players Forum Facebook Group.