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Team Up supports Get Into Rugby PLUS in Fiji and Samoa

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Launched yesterday in Suva (Fiji) and Apia (Samoa), Team Up, the Australian Government’s Sport for Development program, will support the delivery of Get into Rugby PLUS in both Fiji and Samoa over the next two years.

Get into Rugby PLUS is a flagship Sport for Development program that embeds life skills learning with rugby union to promote positive behaviour, gender equality, and prevent violence against women, girls and boys.

Get into Rugby PLUS is jointly developed and implemented by Oceania Rugby, UN Women, ChildFund Rugby and the Fiji and Samoa Rugby Unions.

The program is co-funded by the Australian Government’s Team Up initiative through its partnership with Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby; by UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), funded primarily by the European Union, with targeted support from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and from UN Women; and ChildFund.

Established in 2018 in Fiji, Get into Rugby PLUS is making a positive impact on both its players and coaches who are now proactively promoting gender equality and have greater knowledge and support to identify, reduce and report harassment and violence.

Many Get into Rugby PLUS coaches assert that the program has had a transformative influence upon them and have become proactive change agents for gender equality and ending violence.

In 2021, its fourth year, over 700 girls and boys in Fiji are expected to benefit from the program in Fiji.

Get into Rugby PLUS will be introduced in Samoa in 2021 with 20 coaches working with 12–16 year-old secondary school boys and girls. Get into Rugby PLUS benefits from the unique collaboration of high calibre sport and international development organisations, all of whom are thrilled to have the support of Team Up for the next two years.

Kolu Sewabu, National Development Manager at Fiji Rugby Union said: “The launch is indeed a blessing to our flagship rugby for development program, Get into Rugby PLUS, that embeds life skills learning to promote positive behaviour, gender equality and the prevention of violence against women, girls and boys, a critical issue that is crippling our society.

“Building on what has already been piloted and established, led by trained coaches who model the values of inclusion and diversity, we are thankful to Team Up, Rugby Australia, Oceania Rugby, UN Women and ChildFund, for the provision of funding and equipment to further boost this program which has been making greater impacts on those involved. Many coaches assert the transformative influence the program has had upon them and have become proactive change agents for gender equality and ending violence.”

Samoa Rugby Union’s Taala Tui Komiti, Manager Development and Competitions, who attended the in-country launch in Samoa said: “We thank the Australian government for their support through Team Up, a Sport for Development program as we welcome its launch this morning. We are very excited as the Get into Rugby PLUS program will soon be implemented in our country with its focus on rugby skills and life skills. It will be a good program to increase our participation number especially girls but also to change players’ and coaches’ attitudes and behaviours.”

Oceania Rugby’s General Manager Bruce Cook said: “We welcome the launch of Team Up this week and thank the Australian government for its support. Over the last three years of Get into Rugby PLUS in Fiji we have seen outstanding change in both rugby skills and participants attitudes and behaviours around gender norms and domestic violence. We look forward to seeing Get into Rugby PLUS flourish in Samoa through 2021-22.”

UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Programme Manager – Ending Violence Against Women, Abigail Erikson said, “It is wonderful to see progress towards gender equality and ending violence against women and girls through sports. Through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls programme, UN Women is proud to work with partners who are committed to reflect on their own practices and promote change within the sporting community and beyond. We are looking forward to working even closely together in the next two years in Fiji and Samoa.”

ChildFund’s Sport for Development Director, Chris Mastaglio said: “ChildFund is excited to be part of the incredible work of partners in Fiji and Samoa and we look forward to supporting the delivery of a high-quality learning experience for children that delivers, and evidences, learning and game growth.”

Rugby Australia’s General Manager of Community Rugby James Selby said “We are once again thankful to the Australian Government for supporting the incredibly impactful work that Rugby organisations on individual and communities across the Oceania region. The future successes, built on strong partnerships with National Unions, UN Women, ChildFund Rugby, will utilise rugby as a vehicle to drive gender equality, prevention of violence, leadership and life skills. This new phase of Australia’s sport for development program is verification of the impact sport can have on the lives of people and Rugby Australia is proud to contribute to this work and the important outcomes.”

More about Get into Rugby PLUS

Building on World Rugby’s Get into Rugby initiative, and Fiji and Samoa’s favourite sport, girls and boys in the program benefit from involvement in fun, progressive team activities led by trained coaches who model the values of inclusion and diversity, and create safe playing environments.

Life skills learning components engage players in processes of critical thinking and reflection around issues of respectful relationships, gender stereotypes and violence to build the knowledge, confidence and resilience. The curriculum uses rugby’s values of integrity, solidarity, respect, discipline and passion as its foundation.

Get into Rugby PLUS supports regional initiatives to build gender equality and prevent violence against women, girls and boys. Developed specifically for communities within the Pacific region, the curriculum has been adapted from ChildFund Rugby’s award-winning sport for development program, Pass It Back.

 

Child-focused international aid agency ChildFund and Oceania Rugby will expand their program to strengthen safeguarding systems across rugby to Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, following commencement in Nauru in February 2020.

The wellbeing of young people participating in sport has become an increasing focus among International Sports Federations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has recognised the importance of establishing policies and procedures to ensure children and adults participating in sport activities at all levels are safe from all types of harm and abuse.

As a Regional Association of World Rugby, Oceania Rugby is committed to ensuring rugby is a safe sport for everyone across the region both on and off the field.

The Safeguarding in Sport Project was first launched in late 2019, with ChildFund providing technical expertise, tools, training and support to Oceania Rugby to build safeguarding systems in-line with international best practice.

Oceania Rugby General Manager Bruce Cook said that rugby is committed to providing a positive and high-quality experience in all forms and at all levels of the game that starts with a foundation of safety.

“Working with ChildFund, Oceania Rugby is committed to establishing a culture and systems that prioritises safeguarding for all participants, and equally, we are committed to supporting our Member Unions to do the same,” Cook said.

The Safeguarding in Sport Project has 4 key objectives:

  • To create and sustain safe environments for children in sport through the development of safeguarding standards and processes at the regional and national level;
  • To address negative social norms with the aim of fostering positive behaviours and deterring harmful ones;
  • To establish a strong evidence base to strengthen learning and inform further development of safeguarding in sport initiatives (with a focus on Oceania); and
  • To support National Governing Bodies in establishing links with formal and informal service providers to support case management and response.

ChildFund Sport for Development Director Chris Mastaglio said: “Oceania Rugby’s determination to build an environment and supporting systems where all players – but particularly children – can thrive and feel safe is to be commended.

“We are really excited to be continuing our partnership with Oceania Rugby and their Member Unions in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Samoa and Solomon Islands to ensure that everyone engaging in rugby across the region will benefit from a safer environment, both physically and emotionally.”

The Safeguarding in Sport Project builds on learning and resources developed by ChildFund Australia through work with more than 30 sports organisations around the world.

ChildFund is recognised as a Pioneer Organisation in the International Safeguards for Children in Sport and 2017 was awarded the UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award at the Beyond Sport Global Awards in recognition of its work supporting sporting bodies to improve safeguarding practices.

As the regional governing body of World Rugby, Oceania Rugby has committed to supporting members to strengthen their safeguarding systems at all levels.