14 Apr 2021

Fiji goal machine makes it big in the Middle East

From Champions of the Pacific, 6:09 am on 14 April 2021

Fiji striker Trina Davis is on a mission to score goals lift the profile of Fijian football around the world.

The 19 year is reportedly the first woman from Fiji to sign a professional contract, after linking up with Israeli Premier League side ASA Tel Aviv University SC.

Fiji striker Trina Davis is playing professionally in Israel.

Fiji striker Trina Davis is playing professionally in Israel. Photo: Supplied/ Moshikoshri

The US-born Fiji international, who made her international debut as a 16 year old, said the opportunity to live out her football dream came about thanks to help from the former Fiji men's coach Christophe Gamel.

"When I was in Fiji he always said he always saw potential in me and he wanted me to go far. He always saw that I was pushing myself and pushing everyone to be better and he said you'll go far one day.”

A former assistant coach with the Paris St Germain women’s team, Gamel assured Davis he would help her get her big break in the professional game.

"He kind of looked everywhere for me and he gave me this agent and he reached out to him and he called me and said: 'hey there's a team in Tel Aviv, Israel that wants you. They've seen your clips, they've seen who you are, they're interested, they want to sign you and go this week’.

“...I was like this is an opportunity I want to take and if it's pro, I'm 19 years old and I get this opportunity, I can't pass it up."

Trina Davis is the first Fijian woman to sign a professional football contract.

Trina Davis is the first Fijian woman to sign a professional football contract. Photo: Supplied/ Moshikoshri

Davis was born and raised in the United States but qualified for Fiji through her mother Vikashni, who was born in Fiji and moved to America when she was 22.

The former Marysville Pilchuck High School student scored a hat-trick on her international debut against Vanuatu in 2018, going on to score nine goals in eight matches as Fiji finished runners-up to New Zealand in the OFC Women's Nations Cup.

Despite living in Washington State her entire life, Davis’ footballing blood now bleeds white and blue.

"The play of soccer is different but it's just I feel better representing Fiji than I do USA. Even though I love America and stuff it just feels more close to the heart."

Trina Davis bagged a hat-trick on her senior debut.

Trina Davis bagged a hat-trick on her senior debut. Photo: OFC Media

The last two years have been a long road to recovery for the talented teen, who underwent surgery on a torn ACL in January 2019. After playing non-stop for the best part of eight years, Davis had to 'red-shirt' her first year of university and admitted being unable to take the field took a major toll on her mental health.

"If you go from something and then you have an injury like this it's like: what do I do with my life? Everyone always expects me to play soccer and do this but it's more to it when that gets taken away from you. It was important that I had a good surrounding and lift-up system."

The free-scoring front-woman spent the past two years working at a coffee stand and working out near her home in Seattle as she continued her rehabilitation.

Davis had to down an opportunity to play in France because she was still recovering from surgery, so when Christophe Gamel reached out in January she knew it was an opportunity she had to grasp with both feet.

Trina Davis with her family upon graduating from Marysville Pilchuck High School.

Trina Davis with her family upon graduating from Marysville Pilchuck High School. Photo: Supplied/Trina Davis

Fast forward a few weeks and Davis made her professional debut at the start of March: thrown into a blockbuster clash against league leaders FC Kiryat Gat just two days after arriving in Israel from the US.

"It was exciting,” she recalled. 

“Obviously I was nervous: it was my first game, I'm starting, this is my first game back from ever tearing my ACL - say if I do a little movement I might get hurt and my mindset was like, 'ok you're back playing again, feel your normal self,' so it was just what I had to do."

Davis has now played in six games since arriving in Tel Aviv, scoring her maiden professional goal against Maccabi Hadera FC, and is quickly adapting to the higher standards and expectations in the top flight.

"Everyone was more technical, fast-paced, so it's more of where I want to be at which is way better, so I was excited for that, and everyone skill-wise was better than what I expected so it was a good idea to come I think for me."

While Trina Davis was excited to begin her journey as a professional footballer, at first she didn't realise how significant her achievement was.

"I posted it on my flight to New York - I had to fly from Seattle to New York and then New York to Tel Aviv - and then I got on my plane and then I got off and my phone just blew up with messages. 

“My mum text me and she was like: 'you're the first Fijian woman to ever go pro'. I was like no way, I didn't know that, that is just the craziest thing I ever saw, and then I saw FIFA Women's World Cup gave me a shout out."

Trina Davis celebrates her first ever professional goal for ASA Tel Aviv.

Trina Davis celebrates her first ever professional goal for ASA Tel Aviv. Photo: Supplied/ Moshikoshri

Fiji's first professional woman footballer hoped her pathway will open doors for more of her countrywomen.

"It was exciting to see I was the first Fijian woman. I had so many people reach out to me and said hey we look up to you, you're such an inspiration to people here in Fiji. 

“That wasn't my goal, I wasn't trying to do that but then it felt great to hear that because it's always something I wanted to do and I didn't expect this opportunity would give that mindset to other people."

Davis had seen the talent in the Fiji team first-hand and believed more of her team-mates could thrive if given the same opportunity.

"I know a lot of girls in Fiji I don't think they think they can get out (and have a career in football). They think they're kind of there forever so once they saw oh she's going to play pro so we can."

ASA Tel Aviv University are fourth in the Israeli Women's Premier League with four games remaining in the current campaign, plus a cup semi-final against Maccabi Emek Hefer on 23 April.

Davis has been keeping in contact with her family through regular FaceTime calls and group chats but is booked to fly back to the US on 2 June and is looking forward to seeing her loved ones again, including boyfriend RaeQuan Battle, who announced at the weekend he had committed to play for the Montana State men's basketball program.

Trina Davis is missing her US-based family while she's chasing her footballing dreams in Israel.

Trina Davis is missing her US-based family while she's chasing her footballing dreams in Israel. Photo: Supplied/Trina Davis

Davis doesn't know where she will be playing next season just yet, but she is already counting down the days until she can represent Fiji at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers next June.

"New Zealand's got the automatic go (as World Cup co-hosts alongside Australia), we were second place in Oceania and they've moved it from 24 teams to 32 teams, so just any time someone reaches out to me from Fiji I always say we're going to the World Cup. 

“Because I know that's something I think that would bring them all up...I want to make sure I keep everything open for Fiji because no matter what that's just who I want to bring up the most."