Dad, how did you last for so long? Serevi Jnr asks Fiji legend the secret to his success
Trying to take after his famous father is a tall order, but sage advice comes from the ‘Little Magician’ who changed the way the game is played
Having led Fiji to the Sevens World Cup in Hong Kong in 2005, Waisale Serevi had every right to bask in the glory all by himself.
Instead, he handed the trophy to young Waisale Pierre Serevi ‘Junior’, championing his son on his shoulders while posing for photos.
Now 17 and an avid sevens player for Seattle-based team Eastside Lions in the United States, Serevi Jnr stood proudly by his father’s side at the launch of his new biography – Waisale Serevi, The King of Sevens – which he hopes inspires young Fijians to make their own mark in history.
“Of course I teach my own children [life lessons], too,” said Serevi, whose son and two daughters (Unaisi and Asinate) study in Seattle.
“I remember last year junior played his first sevens tournament outside Seattle in Vegas. He played the first game and lost, second game he lost, third game he lost.
Serevi asked his son post-match what he thought the most difficult thing about the day was.
“He said, ‘I was struggling with this, with this and with this’,” Serevi recalled. “He played three games and was really tired.”
Having played international rugby for 21 years – winning two World Cups and changing the face of the game in the process – Serevi could not help but laugh.
“Junior asked how I did this for so long without getting tired. I told him [sevens] requires a lot of sacrifice and sometimes it’s a lonely journey because you have to draw the line with friends.
“To be successful, you have to do things that make you better [than everybody else]. Training three times a day where normal players may struggle to do one or two – you have to keep working.”
The sacrifices Serevi made in his life – be it walking miles to school as a 10-year-old, sleeping on hotel floors as a young Fiji player or walking across the US-Canadian border in slippers carrying bags of dirty clothes in search of a better future for his family – is something he hopes young Fijians can take after, rugby fan or not.
“Some people’s [parents] are [financially] OK and let you do anything, but Fiji is different – mum and dad put food on your plate,” he said.
“I wanted to make the people of Fiji happy and now people all over the world come up to me.
“With or without support, you should have a dream, and no matter what people say, you must work hard to achieve it.”
Francis Kean, chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union, said of the man he calls ‘Small’: “He would always dedicate his wins to the children. He’s so important for the advancement of the sport in Fiji.
“Every kid wants to be Serevi. You see them [passing] empty bottles and doing the Serevi step. That’s the magic of Serevi.”