Empowerment, commitment lead to promise to mother and success in rugby

'Oku taupotu 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

Counties Manukau and ‘Ikale Tahi rugby union flanker Fotu Suluka Lokotui said today he thought his life was over when he left school in year nine.

However, his strong commitment and the empowerment that came from the support of other rugby players led him to make a promise to his mother that resulted in a great sporting career.

Lokotui, 26, said he thought about his future after dropping out of school and although he had many wishes, he thought they were impossible to achieve.

Some of the possible obstacles he faced was the limited resources he had access to and being the youngest of 10 poor siblings.

However, at the first opportunity he got he made great sacrifices to show that he had talent  and it was paid off.

In an exclusive interview with Kaniva News in his residence in Papakura, a smiling Lokotui of Longoteme, Tongatapu, revealed how he did not even think that he would ever hold or kick a rugby ball.

He said the empowerment he got from his eldest brother Tukulua Tolu when he made the last try to give ‘Apifo’ou College Ist XV Senior team the chance to win the Inter-College Rugby Tournament seal gave him a lot of courage.

“My friends regularly talked about Tolu and praised him for that try. I always thought about that while I was trying to see if I can find a life in rugby,” Lokotui said.

The powerhouse loose forward thought leaving school was the end of his life.

But after about four years Fr Seluini ‘Akauola of ‘Apifo’ou College trained some of the young men in how to play rugby in Longoteme.

Lokotui said he went there and watched before he joined the team of about seven.

“I started to see I had the talent as a rugby player,” he said.

Fr Seluini re-enrolled them at ‘Apifo’ou College where they joined the college’s technical class. He was about 17 at the time.

Lokotui said his ambition to become a rugby player began to become real after he was called to the Apifo’ou’s 1st XV senior team to play as number 6 and 7.

They won the inter-college rugby tournament seal that year. He said after the achievement he determined that rugby was his career.

“I then made a promise to my mother that I would put my everything to rugby as I strongly believed I could earn a living there,” Lokotui said.

In 2011 he was selected to represent Tonga’s U20 team when it toured the US.

He also joined the Tonga Sevens who toured New Zealand

Most of the Marist Tonga team were from ‘Apifo’ou College and they made a deal with Marist in Oamaru, New Zealand where Lokotui went to play.

After his six months visa expired he returned to Tonga.

He returned to New Zealand to join a family funeral when officials from the Patumahoe rugby team visited him.

They agreed the Patumahoe team would recruit him after returning to Tonga.

He returned to New Zealand and played for the Patumahoe. He also played for Counties Manukau where he has a contract of three-year terms with them with opportunity for renewals.

He moved to Ardmore Marist Rugby club this year.

Last year and this year he played for the Ikale Tahi.

“I am happy that one of my dreams has come true and I feel great here in New Zealand with all the opportunities I have now,” he told Kaniva News.

For further information

Counties Manukau coach Darryl Suasua tips big things from debutant Fotu Lokotui

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