“Some of my friends ask why I play rugby but I say it can be played by boys and girls,” says Adi Luisa Soqosoqo a player at this year’s West Kids Rugby Festival – one of six girls from Sigatoka Methodist School playing in the Nadroga West Kaji Rugby Team.
“When people say girls can’t play rugby, I totally disagree,” said Luisa, adding that “As a girl when I play rugby I feel it’s equal, cause if boys can then girls can.”
The West Kids Rugby Festival is tackling gender equality head on, attracting a record number of girl players and women coaches for the three-day event at Prince Charles Park in Nadi from 15-17 August.
The festival started three years ago in 2014, as a rugby development event for primary school boys expanding to a national event with more than 2,000 girls and boys participating. This growth has been enabled by support from Fiji Rugby and Oceania Rugby, with its new gender equality partner UN Women.
“Sport is a vital part of Pacific communities and Pacific life,” said Aleta Miller, UN Women’s Representative for the Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).
“Promoting equal access to sporting codes for girls and boys, women and men is a key strategy to demonstrating that women and girls really can do anything; to ‘level the playing field’ in life and achieve more gender equal societies,” Ms Miller said.
“Clearly rugby is for everyone – just look on-field today at the record numbers of girl players and women coaches at this year’s West Kids Rugby Festival.”