Lilomaiava swaps tourism for rugby
The fates are smiling down upon Nathan Lilomaiava these days.
The young rugby player recently signed a contract with French rugby union club Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne and is about to depart Samoa.
For the next two years, Lilomaiava will be running on to the rugby field in Aurillac, France.
For the 20-year old from the village of Fagali’i, it has been a long pathway to the world of professional sport.
“It took a while for me until I was able to try out as a professional rugby player.
“I started out studying tourism at N.U.S., but after my first semester, I knew that I wanted to try to make a career as a rugby player.
“So I spent the last two years playing in Australia and New Zealand.
“After the World Cup, I returned to Samoa, which was not easy for me,” Mr Lilomaiava said.
On his return, the talented rugby player has gone full circle and has been working in tourism again.
At the moment, he works as a waiter at the beautiful, recently-opened Taumeasina Island Resort near Apia.
“I like this job very much, but I know that the rugby contract is a great opportunity to push my career as a player in the next two years,” he said.
The expectations Nathan takes to France are realistic.
“The kind of rugby that is played in Europe is tough, but I will do my best to keep up with that.”
His start as a new player in France will be alleviated by one special circumstance.
Nathan will not join Aurillac’s squad as a complete stranger.
“My brother Robert has been playing for them for some time now, so this will make it easier for me to fit in with the team, I think.”
As for long term plans, Nathan is already thinking ahead.
“I hope to prove myself so that I can extend my contract after those two years. It’s not going to be easy to compete over there, but I’ll try everything possible to achieve a future in rugby.”
Even though he will leave Samoa to play in Europe, the 20-year old rugby player was adamant that he won’t forget where his roots are.
“It would not have been possible to achieve such a contract without the support of my pastor and my family. I thank them for everything that they have done for me and I’ll make sure that I will give something back to them with this opportunity,” he said.