It’s an exciting month for Fiji Rugby where the focus shifts mainly to women in rugby.
It is a month of celebrating and acknowledging the contribution of women in rugby here in Fiji and also throughout the Oceania region.
While the Fijiana 7s achievement at the Tokyo Olympics still fresh in peoples mind, it is an opportune time to talk more on the challenges and opportunities of growing the women and girls in rugby in the next years as we now shift the performance focus to Rugby World Cup 2022 in New Zealand for Fijiana XV, the Super Rugby opportunities with Fijiana Drua set up, the 7s Series and of course the next Olympics- what this means to Fiji Rugby and our nation as a whole.
Our girls have proven in the global stage against all odds that despite the many challenges they face, dreams can be achieved through hard work, commitment, sacrifice and self-discipline.
Their achievement has also proven that for girls who want to reach the pinnacle of global sports, rugby is one of those sports that will give them the platform and the opportunity to do so through its vision and values- it is a game for all, true to its values.
To continue the growth of females in rugby, Fiji Rugby’s Development Manager Koli Sewabu and team have been conducting online courses and have mapped out a plan achieving the goal come next year.
Sewabu said “A new pathway has also been developed for our inclusion program which will be launched in January 2022 which looks at the Long Term Development Model (LTPD) of girls and how they will be given the right training methods throughout their journey from as young as 6 years old to 15 years old.
This will help shape the foundations of their growth, a multi-sport approach that is hoped increase and sustain success in the long term.
There has been an influx of girls/womens participation in rugby over the last few years. Our GiR (Get Into Rugby) program has reflected significant numbers of girls participating in rugby before COVID hits in 2020. Even in the midst of COVID 19 challenges when restrictions on sports were lifted for a small window before the next lockdown in March 2021, girls continue to flock in numbers to any rugby activity in our communities.”
He further added “Growing the womens game in a male-dominant sports is always going to be challenging. It has taken a number of years to get us to where we are now, and there’s still a lot of work to be done. I acknowledge the vision and the support of the board and CEO, including a strategic outcome specifically for women and the inclusion of Mere Rakoroi as one of the directors.
Under this pillar, and through her guidance and support, roles were established for Vela Naucukidi as Womens Development Manager and Paulini Tamatasasa as Womens Development Officer.
They work closely with all our Rugby Development Officers within the 5 regions to ensure the growth of women in rugby. In partnership with World Rugby and Oceania Rugby, clear KPIs were set to ensure we have a minimum of 30% of girls in our participation program and the same goes for our Training & Education program.”
“A lot of stakeholder engagement also happens at different levels, with NGOs support (like UN Women, FWCC), provincial unions in terms of our Vanua structures and the role of women, and how this is approached with respect and sensitivity within our community structures. At times, FRU had to take a strong stance on the inclusion of women in our domestic competition which is now been established.
We also had to build capacity in our workforce by equipping volunteers, coaches, match officials, strength & conditioning coaches and medicals” said Sewabu.