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Tavaita Rowati: Pioneering the Future of Women’s Rugby in Fiji

A trailblazer in the making, Tavaita Rowati is setting her sights on becoming the first-ever female coach for the National Vodafone Fijiana 15s team.

Rowati, who holds a Level Three coaching certification, stands as one of only two women in Fiji to have completed their coaching assessments at this elite level.

Currently enrolled in the World Rugby Coaching Internship Program, she is sharpening her leadership and coaching skills, a significant step towards nurturing the next generation of rugby players.

“The coaching internship program is funded by World Rugby to support women coaches in high-performance programs, mostly encouraging women to take up coaching roles in national teams, so I am very honored to be part of the program,” Rowati said.

At the moment, Rowati stands as a Strength and Conditioning Coach but is slowly transitioning into the Assistant Coach role for the Vodafone Fijiana 15s after two tours last season.

Having commenced her rugby journey in 2003 as a Fijiana half-back, Rowati’s love for the sport were challenged by societies perception of women in rugby.

At a time when rugby was predominantly considered a man’s game, she defied the odds and represented Fiji in both the 7s and 15s codes.

“After hanging my boots in 2018, I went on to start my own club, ‘Striders Women,’ and we have become a strong club with passionate and dedicated young women,” she shared.

Rowati said her goal is to facilitate the dreams of numerous young girls aspiring to be rugby stars.

“The perception of girls playing rugby has changed over the years, and it makes me proud that a growing number of young girls are showing interest in rugby.”

The Tonia, Tailevu native remains optimistic about the future of women in rugby.

“I believe with my unique blend of experience as a player and now as a coach, I want to shape not just skilled athletes but resilient and empowered individuals,” she said.

Rowati acknowledged the need for working together as a community.

“As a coach I believe it is important to connect with other coaches to look at better programs and better pathways, and it is very important to connect with grassroots coaches and clubs.

“I want to make sure our grassroots are equipped with the resources to help them hone athletes into national standards,” she said.

Rowati’s journey through rugby as a player and now a coach portrays a positive impact it can have on individuals and communities.

“I know I’m worth something and not just meeting KPI’s so this is my time to show up and give back to Fiji. I want to grow in the space and aspire to be something I really want to achieve in the future,” she added.

Keep an eye out for Coach Tavs this season as the Vodafone Fijiana 15’s and the Rooster Chicken Fijiana Drua kicks-off.

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