Trina Davis didn’t know trip specifics. All the Marysville Pilchuck senior knew was she’d be spending nearly three weeks in Fiji for soccer and cultural perspective.
Davis returned home in early September with a story to tell.
“I was actually really shocked,” Davis said. “I didn’t think all of this would happen. The day before I was leaving, I was kind of down about missing high school soccer and stuff, but being there and hearing the girls’ stories, I think it was really good that I did this.”
Through a connection her future coach at Grambling State University had with the Fiji National Team, Davis, who is Indo-Fijian, began planning a trip months ago to compete with Fiji during the Oceanic Football Confederation Nations Cup 2018 qualifier.
Davis quickly learned what she’d gotten herself into upon her mid-August arrival.
“I thought I wasn’t going to be in the camp,” said Davis, describing the Fijian team’s strictly regimented training camp. “I was there until the end of the tournament. There was no junk food, our phones were taken away. … When we got rooms, one of the girls said, ‘Why did you post (on social media) about being on the U-17 team? This is the Fiji Women’s National Team.’”
Every day Davis followed a detailed schedule that included a 5 a.m. wakeup, a morning walk, team breakfast, lunch, dinner, physical training, practice and devotion time. Lights were out at 9 p.m.
Davis made an immediate impact once games began.
She was the featured piece in Fiji’s attack throughout the tournament and scored a hat trick in her first game, helping Fiji beat Vanuatu 5-1. The Fijians played to a scoreless draw in their second game against Solomon Islands, and Davis scored again during Fiji’s final game against America Samoa — a 2-0 victory.
“We watched her videos, and we all fell in love with her,” Fiji coach Marika Rodu said. “Everyone at the FFA (Fiji Football Association) house also supported in the process to have someone like Trina represent the country. … After the first game, the fans just fell in love with Trina and how she burns that speed. The whole nation was proud, though.”
Davis won the tournament’s golden boot award for most goals scored and was key in Fiji winning the tournament and advancing to the OFC Women’s Nations Cup, which takes place this November. The tournament is a qualifier for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
While Davis, a senior, is enjoying her final weeks of prep soccer, it’s hard to not dream about the real possibility of playing in a World Cup.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” Davis said. “I would leave in June and miss my graduation. I talked to my (school) counselors, and they said not many people miss their graduation to go to a World Cup. They told me to look at the positives.”
Davis and her Fijian teammates still have a lot of great soccer to play in order to qualify for France in 2019, but Rodu said Davis’ ability certainly increases the team’s chances.
“I only wish I have 10 other Trinas,” Rodu said. “Our opponents will be studying our games from August. They will definitely have Trina marked. With Trina in the team, she gives hope to the team. As a team we have the ability to make it to the finals of our playoff and, God willing, make it to the World Cup.”
Davis, during her three weeks in Fiji, became a mini celebrity of sorts. Besides being a fan favorite at matches, she was featured in multiple Fijian publications, did a photoshoot for Fiji soccer sponsor Vodafone and modeled for local active wear company, Bolalicious.
Beyond soccer, Davis developed an even greater appreciation for her culture. She saw first-hand how Fijians made the most of what little they had and how upbeat her countrymen were.
Davis didn’t train in a state-of-the-art facility. She and her teammates jumped through and flipped tires. They had to squat down to use an undersized pull-up bar, they used a standard bench-press bench for sit-ups and push-ups and the girls didn’t have the Nike gear Davis had.
Before Davis left, she gave leggings and some of her Marysville Pilchuck shirts to the other girls.
“I learned a lot more about Fiji,” Davis said. “I gave (my teammates) some clothes, and they were super grateful. They don’t have Wi-Fi, and lots of them didn’t have phones, so they used my phone and took hundreds of pictures. It was funny. They were really funny, and reminded me of myself.”
“The girls were anticipating her arrival,” Rodu said. “They were actually in competition to be Trina’s roommate. It didn’t take time for Trina to jell in well with the rest of the girls. Definitely, she has opened the eyes of our players or future players with her on- and off-the-field behaviors.”
Davis is now focused on finishing her prep career that will likely close in October or early November. Then she’ll immediately turn her attention to the 2018 OFC Women’s Nations Cup from Nov. 18-Dec. 1.
Fiji is in a group with Tonga, Cook Islands and New Zealand. The top two teams advance to the semifinals. The tournament winner earns the World Cup berth as well as a berth to the 2020 Summer Olympics. Fiji’s first game is against Cook Islands on Nov. 19.