Grace Jale returned to her father’s hometown after representing Aotearoa in the FIFA World Cup and the footage from her visit will make you feel like someone's chopping onions nearby
Being the first Football Fern of Fijian descent, Grace headed to the land of her vuvale (family) to have a lax one after this month’s hectic World Cup. While in the country’s capital Suva, she got her football kick by helping an under-16 team out with a coaching session.
To thank her, the players gathered in a circle and sang a Fijian song to Grace.
“Although it was short, this is the best trip I have ever been on,” Grace said. “The people were so friendly, the nature was beautiful, and the food was delicious!”
“Though I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, I have always felt such a strong connection to the islands of Fiji.”
“My father's side of the family still resides there, and although this was my first time visiting, it feels like a home away from home. I will treasure the memories and connections I made on this trip forever.”
“What makes Fiji so special is its people, and in particular for me was the young girls of the U16 team who were a true delight to train with. Their smiles and laughter throughout the session were incredible – they are so positive and, of course, very talented.”
Coach of the U16 team, Angeline Chua, said that Grace is proof the players' dreams of soccer superstardom are attainable.
“For many of the girls, this is the first time they've met and trained with a female professional footballer,” she shared.
“This experience has bolstered their belief in building a career from their football dreams. Seeing how far Grace has come has taught them that they too can excel a sport they are passionate about.”
Good luck to the U16 team players who compete in their age-grade Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) championship next month!