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Nadi mourns budding soccer star

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A pall of gloom has hung over the Nadi football fraternity again after 29 years following the drowning death of Nadi Muslim College standout and U17 national team midfielder Shalit Muni Reddy in Samoa on Monday.


Reddy's death brings back fresh memories of the 1985 loss of U19 national team and Nadi College striker assassin Petaia Ratu.


Ratu like Shalit had gone for a quick unsupervised cool-off in the Nadi River following a scrimmage at the Nadi Muslim school grounds.


Soccer great Ivor Evans was a marquee player on the team at the time preparing for the Oceania World Cup in Sydney, Australia.


Evans told Sportsone in Vancouver, that Shalit's drowning death news inundated him of Ratu's fatal dive under the Nadi Bridge on that Sunday afternoon in 1985.


"We had just come off a scrimmage on a scorcher Sunday and decided to walk off the walkout by heading down toward Prince Charles Park", he said.


"Ratu, a Nadi boy elected to jump in the Nadi River for a quick cool off with some other team members. Ratu never surfaced again".


The former Vancouver Whitecaps soccer legend says Ratu's loss was felt by the teammates and the management.


"He (Ratu) was an amazing athlete, a starter on the team, and his loss took time to sink in as the entire team had bonded following periodic camps”, he said.


The British Columbia Hall of Fame said there is a dire need for an independent investigation into Shalit's death as the FFA is duty bound for every player’s welfare and safe return home upon the completion of national duties.


"Death is ineluctable yet I believe the very people who were tasked keep a close tab on the Shalit must bear responsibility.


"The coaching staff and the management were simply asleep at the switch".


Evans said a budding player lost his life to complete negligence on some level.


"There needs to be some compensation here.


"I feel for the Shalit’s family. I extend my condolences to his family", said Evans.


Nadi Muslim College soccer coach Nadeem Mohammed is awe struck.


He said the loss is insurmountable.


"Shalit was a model soccer player and a down to earth human being".


"We the NMC family are all in a state of shock with Shalit’s departure. Shalit is gone to eternal life but he will forever be in our thoughts", Mohammed said with a heavy heart.


Mohammed said the affable Shalit, who was fondly called ' Lambu' will have his No2 jersey reserved for him for future tournaments.


He has even pledged to register the player for all scheduled games for the year.


"I have made up my mind to have Shalit on my team list", he said.


When asked if he has given any thought of retiring his jersey for good, Mohammed said he will take that decision at a later date.


Shalit took up soccer at an early age of 10 when he was a student at AD Patel School.


He made U10, U12 and U14 teams


He represented U15, U17 and U19 team for Nadi Muslim College and also represented Nadi U16 team last year.

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