New Zealand Nadi Legends and Nadi Legends in a group picture after the inaugural Joe Lutumailagi Cup game in Nadi yesterday. NZ Nadi won 2-1.

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Patel 'Man Mountain' leader

Local Sports

Former Ba and Fiji forward Inia Bola; FBFormer Ba and Fiji forward Inia Bola; FBVINOD PATEL, the former Ba Football Association president was coined  as ‘Man Mountain’ administrator, says Inia Bola.

The legendary Ba and Fiji forward of the 70-80s, said Patel was an honest servant who served the district with distinction and whose contributions will forever remain unparalleled.

Patel died on Monday at the age of 84, he was at the helm of the Ba Football Association for over 20 years.

“No one would come close to what Patel was to the sport and its people," Inia said.

“He was a man mountain for district football.

“A legend of an administrator."

Inia, affably known as the ‘Golden Header’ said Patel scripted into history for leading Ba to its unprecedented 6 consecutive Inter District Championships between 1975-1980.

He said footballers of his era looked up to Patel as their father figure and following their retirement they maintained the same relationship.

“Every footballer looked up to Patel, he was  a father figure for us all. Very respectful, down to earth and humble.

“Patel was a revered administrator of his time and beyond.”

Inia recalls how in the 80s, the entire team walked off on the back of Patel’s decision to resign as the president.

“Patel was our president, we players took it to heart his decision to walk on the team, had Patel not rescinded.”

“Out of love for the players, the district and its people, he had a change of heart, that’s how much we loved him.

“It was all about the bond.

“Rest in eternal peace father."

Patel was laid to rest in Ba yesterday.

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