PNG-born Chris Minimbi is aiming to secure a rugby contract at one of the top clubs overseas as he pursues a career in the “game they play in heaven”.
The 20-year-old whose father from Western Highlands died when he was just eight, left for his mother’s home in Fiji about 10 years ago. He has already become the head boy of a top all-boys school and represented the country in the Under-20 national rugby team, Fiji Warriors team and last week broke into the Flying Fijians national team to play Portugal, France and Scotland in the 2020 Autumn Cup in Europe next month.
“I am taking every opportunity I can find and I want to play overseas and be like other Flying Fijians who have contracts overseas. I want to see how far this career takes me. It is fun and it keeps me fit. It starts small in trying to do every little things right. Through God’s grace everything will fall into place.”
He is a former head boy and dux of the Marist Brothers High School in Suva. His mum Lia is from Nakasaleka on Kadavu island located south of the capital Suva.
He wants to succeed in rugby to help his family.
“I am from PNG but my mother is from Kadavu. I grew up in PNG until I was 10. My rugby started at the Marist Brothers High School where I did Year 10. I did not play rugby in PNG. I came here and I picked up the ball and got into Marist.
“ I am taking every opportunity I can find and I want to play overseas and be like other Flying Fijians who have contracts overseas.”
“My father passed away when I was eight and it has been very tough. My mother is very strong. She does not like me playing rugby but she told me that if I want to play, I should give it 100 per cent.
“I should not be scared for no reason. She is my biggest inspiration. My grandparents are very old. They should be resting but they are looking after me. They are my main drivers. I just keep strong for that. They are my strength and they keep me going.”
He lists as his role models former Wallabies halfback Will Genia and Fijian loose forwards Ifereimi Rawaqa, Kele Leawere and Leone Nakarawa.
“Will Genia is one of my heroes. He started small and worked hard through God’s grace. It’s also a huge honour to play in a position where brothers such as Kele and Ifereimi Rawaqa had done before me.
“I idolised the Flying Fijians in the Rugby World Cup in 2007. They went against the odds and did the impossible. I look up to them for inspiration. Hopefully one day I will be like them.”
He was selected by World Rugby to be a member of the Pacific Combined squad after the Pacific Rugby Challenge this year.
“I am thankful to World Rugby and the Pacific rugby unions for developing this. It is a huge experience. The coaches and physio are world-class and I have been learning so much.”
His advice to Pacific rugby players is to have hope.
“Rugby is a great sport. It builds character. One major part of building character is education. After 12 years, your body is going to tell you to stop. By that time it is best to go back to something you love.
“Enjoying studying. Don’t study because your mother wants you to study. Study the field where your passion is and give it your 100 per cent.”
Good for it Chris – a proud young PNG man flying high in his mother’s homeland.
- Story and pictures supplied by The Fiji Times