The new phase of the Australian Government’s sport for development program, Team Up, launched in the Pacific this week is a massive boost for the rapidly emerging rugby union nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Oceania Rugby, Rugby Australia and Team Up have partnered with Nauru Rugby Union, PNG Rugby Union and the PNG Deaf Association to design and introduce programs that use rugby as a vehicle for driving participation and inclusion of girls and women, and the deaf community in all aspects of rugby.
Launched in Nauru yesterday, the Nauru Rugby Inclusion Impact Program is being delivered by Nauru Rugby Union, Rugby Australia, Oceania Rugby with support from the Australian government’s Team Up program. It is a sport for development initiative focused on rapid and high-quality growth and inclusion of women and girls in all aspects of rugby union.
Nauru Rugby Union Vice President Dagan Kaierua said they welcome the funding and support from Team Up and being able to work closely with Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby to create more opportunities for rugby in Nauru.
“As a union we are committed to creating a safe and enriching environment for everyone to learn and enjoy rugby. This program will help fast track our local development, especially in seeing girls and women involved in tag, sevens and 10s rugby, and in leadership roles on and off the field. This will provide invaluable opportunities to girls and women on the island, while strengthening all aspects of rugby in Nauru”, Kaierua added.
The PNG Rugby Union Inclusion Impact Program, delivered through a partnership between PNG Rugby Union, Papua New Guinea Deaf Association, Rugby Australia, Oceania Rugby and Team Up, also focuses on the inclusion and empowerment of women and girls, it is also the only Team Up initiative with a focus on those who are hard of hearing or deaf.
PNG Rugby Union Chair Syd Yates acknowledged the work of all partners in the development of this program.
“It is exciting to be able to work so closely with Papua New Guinea Deaf Association, Rugby Australia, Oceania Rugby and Team Up. At PNG Rugby we understand the importance of everyone in our game and want to ensure we are providing the best environment for everyone to succeed in a safe and positive way”, said Yates.
Rugby Australia and Oceania Rugby are proud to be working together in support of initiatives that not only support our game but have such important social development outcomes.
Bruce Cook, Oceania Rugby’s General Manager, said “The partnerships between Team Up and rugby union in this region are the result of genuine collaboration and a commitment to high quality sport for development program delivery over the past five years. All partners have been working closely over the past few months to design the locally tailored programs that meet the needs in country and deliver transformational outcomes for rugby and its participants regardless of their gender, ability or background.”
Rugby Australia’s General Manager of Community Rugby James Selby said “We have a long history of partnering with the Australian Government, Oceania Rugby and our friends across the region to grow the game of Rugby and realise its true impact on individuals and the communities in which they live. We are excited to support the programs in Nauru and Papua New Guinea and the work they will do to engage women and girls and drive safe and inclusive environments. The people to people connections across countries are a huge component of this work and Rugby Australia will work with the Nauru and PNG Unions to build connections to Australian people and organisations, such as Deaf Rugby Australia, to share knowledge and experience which will benefit all involved.”
Team Up launches taking place this week across six Pacific Island nations leading into International Women's Day (Monday 8 March), reflecting the program’s strong focus on gender equity.
Rugby Union will be supported through Team Up for sport for development programs in four countries, Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, over the next two years.