Esala Masinisau

In this weeks “Off the Pitch” we caught up with a player who has a very interesting football background. He has played at the elite level in the former National Soccer League, played internationally for his country and is widely regarded as one of the best Fijian football players of all time. He is also a very popular figure at Mitchelton FC in Brisbane’s Capital League 1.

This week we took time to talk to all round nice guy Esala Masinisau!

QSN: Tell us about yourself and your most recent football history?

EM: I was born in a small town in Fiji called Ba. When it comes to football Ba FC is the biggest name in Fiji. My most recent football history and highlight is without a doubt winning the 2013 Capital League 1 with Mitchelton FC, 24 matches, 24 wins, Premiers and Grand Final Winners!

QSN: Tell us about your junior football years? How were you introduced to the game and who was your main football influence?

EM: My father (Waisea Naicovu) played football and my uncles played football, so it wasn’t hard for me to be influenced into the game….it became the game I love so much. In my junior years I represented my primary schools, secondary schools and Ba FC Under 15’s, 20’s and 23’s and Fiji Under 15’s, 20’s and 23’s

QSN: It must have been a great honour to represent your country of birth, can you tell us the highlight of your international career?

EM: It’s always an honour for any footballer to represent their country. It was an exciting and very happy moment when I got called up for a senior cap at the age of 17. I am very proud of my 50 + appearances for Fiji. Highlights of my international representative career were the two Melanesian Cups and Captaining my country in the South Pacific Games.

QSN: You have played at Mitchelton FC for a few seasons now and have seen the club progress to Capital 1 Premiers and Champions. What is it about Mitchelton FC you enjoy most and why do you think the club has been so successful?

EM: For the years I have been with Mitchelton FC I believe that the progress and success of the club starts at the very top. Club administrators and members are very passionate about their club. They always put the player’s welfare first. It’s very much a grassroots football club and very family oriented which has a positive effect on the players and in turn, results in on field success.

QSN: It been well over a year since Mitchelton FC has been beaten in a League match which is an amazing achievement. Does the unbeaten streak add extra pressure to the team?

EM: In a way you could say yes. The 2013 season is now the benchmark and every team in the competition is out to stop our winning streak. It is an expectation that every match Mitchelton play is a must win. The positive side is that we have already played 4 matches for 4 wins in 2014 so we have started the way we finished last season …I think we are handling the pressure well and are taking it one match at a time.

QSN: Tell us about playing your football under head Coach Leo Sirianni? How does he challenge you as a player?

EM: Leo is a very down to earth person. Just like any coach that I’ve come across he gets so pumped in training and match day because he is a very passionate man. He is a typical Italian! And will do anything for football! Haha!….He always works at the players level and listens to the players for their opinions. He challenges me in many different ways but expects me to enjoy the game, be myself and to bridge the gap of my football knowledge.

QSN: Who is the best player you have played with or against in your career?

EM: Damien Mori (ADELAIDE CITY FC) in the National Soccer League

QSN: What do you do with yourself when you not playing football?

EM: Spend time with family and friends and I love fishing!

QSN: Time for 5 rapid fire questions! Your favourite drink, music, food, football idol and which football club do you support?

EM: Drink-Kava, Music-Gospel and Fijian or Island, Food-Fried fish with taro in coconut milk, Football Idol – Edison Arantes Do Nascimento (PELE), Football Club-Manchester United.

QSN: What’s your worst habit?

EM: Forgetting family commitments for football! – Don’t remember how many times I’ve done it!

QSN: If you weren’t a footballer, what other sport would you play?

EM: Rugby or hockey….

Well thank you Esala for talking with Queensland Soccer News. It’s been great talking to you. We wish you well and every success in Capital League 1 and in the upcoming Canale Travel Cup.

If you want to see Esala in action, Mitchelton FC will host Bayside United in the top of table Capital League 1 blockbuster at Teralba this Saturday at 3.15pm!

Esala Masinisau Statistics:

Nationality: Fijian

Age: 40

Height: 187cm

Preferred Positions: Midfield

Career Highlights: 2000 National Soccer League CHAMPIONS ( WOLLONGONG WOLVES FC ), 2001/02 National Soccer League FINALIST ( NEWCASTLE UNITED FC ), 2008 Victorian Premier League CHAMPIONS (ALTONA MAGIC SOCCER CLUB ) + International Caps for Fiji from 1997 to 2005.