Antonio Sipa Masina is one of the lucky ones with his 12 post-year career already mapped out.
The 12th grade student at Werribee’s Grange P-12 College is about to embark on a youngster’s dream of a professional sports career having signed a three-year contract with Super Rugby Melbourne Rebels.
Having progressed through the junior ranks, Masina has her eyes set on the big moment. He has followed his dream for as far as he can remember.
âI played volleyball alongside my dad, but my real passion is rugby,â he said.
“I eat, sleep and breathe.”
Sport runs in the family for Masina with the family supporting the various sporting achievements of all members.
Masina has played rugby league, rugby union and volleyball at the junior state level.
“My father, Venu, was an international volleyball player for Samoa and New Zealand,” he said.
âMy older sister played rugby in the Super W League with the Melbourne Rebels and my three younger siblings are all passionate about their sport.
âMy mother, Malia, is the backbone of our family.
Masina really started to focus on rugby union in 2017 when he was selected to join the Rebels Academy in 2018.
It would be a big year in the sport for Masina as he toured Europe with the Victorian Public Schools team.
“It was an incredible experience. We traveled and played in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Belgium during the month we were away,” he said.
“I learned so much about being on a traveling team and playing against great teams.”
After the highs of 2018, 2019 was a much more difficult year when Masina suffered a major setback in his sporting dream when he broke his ankle while playing for Brimbank Rugby Club in a match.
An operation to rebuild his ankle and a two-year battle to get back into play certainly made Masina more resilient.
âI always had to work hard to improve my skills, after this injury I had to work four times harder,â he said.
âRecovery was critical and I spent many hours in recovery mode. I was never sure I could play at this level again. â
With last season’s shutdown due to COVID-19, Masina has had more time to question herself and returned to the pitch earlier this year for the Rebels Academy Under-18 team.
Masina, who plays as a number seven or open side flanker, had attended Rebels Academy practice three times a week.
Other than that, Masina became well known in her neighborhood for dragging or spilling tires, doing laps around the block, or using a punching bag in the front yard.
Masina, who is also a senior house captain at that school, was selected in July to be part of the Rebels’ elite player program.
“I look forward to 2022 as I embark on my professional sporting journey,” he said.
âI’m going to spend my first year playing in my first or second year with a Victorian Rugby Union team overseen by the Rebels.
âMy immediate goal is to push for an Australian Under-20 selection next year.
âFrom there, to become a key player for the Melbourne Rebels in their senior team. My ultimate goal is to represent Australia.
Masina is the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club Don Deeble Sports Star Award winner for September. Its award is sponsored by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club, Strathmore Community Bank and Deer Park Club.
If you would like to nominate a monthly winner, send an email to: [email protected] or sms 0408 556 631.