Rugby player in awe of 93-year-old grand dad's support

Ivana Safua will always remember last weekend’s third leg of the Vodafone National Sevens Series for two reasons – Taula Eels’ winning the Cup final and the presence of his grandfather for the first time at one of his games.

Safua, who hails from Apia and Fusi Safotulafai, Savai'i was taken by surprise to see his grandfather, Ae Lumafale Siaosi in the stands at the Apia Park Stadium last Saturday cheering him on.

His mother’s 93-year-old father would normally be glued to the television screen at home on the big island to watch his grandson’s exploits on the field. 

But it appears Siaosi didn’t want to miss the action and would have wanted to see his grandson in person at the Apia Park Stadium on Saturday, when Safua’s team Taula Eels went into battle in the Vodafone National Sevens Series cup final against an equally determined Matniuel Laulii Lions.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Safua said he was surprised to see his grandfather in the stadium stands. 

“I was surprised because every time we have our games during this Sevens Series, he would always watch it on TV. But this is his first time to watch it live and he came all the way from Savai’i to Apia Park to support me and my games,” he said.

Safua admits he and his grandfather are tight knitted and he looks up to him as a major supporter of his budding rugby career.

“He is one of the most important people in my life and my supporter throughout my rugby career. 

“As his grandson, all I want is to make him proud and I want to say I love you Papa and I hope our heavenly father will add many more years to your life so you can continue to support me and be my inspiration.”

The fact that Taula Eels went on to defeat Matniuel Laulii Lions 36-5 – with Safua’s grandfather watching from the stadium stands – makes the victory all the more memorable for the Savai’i-based player.

“He [Siaosi] came just in time when we won the championship, that’s why I’m really grateful and proud. It only means that he didn’t waste his time nor money to watch our game,” he added.

Elated that they won the cup final, Safua said they keep in touch on the phone as he is currently residing on Upolu. 

“My relationship with my Papa was a long distance one, we only talked on the phone as he is in Savai’i and I’m in Upolu. Every time we talk, he cries on the phone as he wishes me good luck for my games. He gives me advice before I go.”

Safua further stated that his grandfather could have been the oldest person at the stadium last Saturday.

“And what makes me happy, is that he’s here watching my games. Supporting me on the field, and giving me his blessings as I try and develop my talent. 

“I believe he was the only eldest person in the Park but I know he came because he wanted to see me perform to the best of my ability. And for that, I thank you papa and I love you always.”

Safua will be part of the Taula Eels squad for the fourth leg of the Vodafone National Sevens Series this Saturday.

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