Tuvalu Rugby Union (TRU) was declared the April GIR Spotlight Union in recognition of four volunteers who travelled by boat for over 30 hours to conduct the Get Into Rugby (GIR) programme on the outer islands of Tuvalu.
As part of the TRU’s agreement with the Tuvalu Ministry of Education to incorporate the GIR programme into the school's physical education classes, the TRU for the first-time left Funafuti, the main island in Tuvalu, to deliver GIR to the outer island schools.
Islands visited by the volunteers during their 21 days trip include Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Vaitupu and Nukulaelae.
During their visits they conducted rugby and values sessions, GIR teacher training and mini festivals for children in both primary and secondary schools
Alama Elisaia, one of the volunteers and Tuvalu’s GIR Coordinator said, “It was a great experience to see boys and girls enjoy playing tag rugby for the first time. As part of the program sustainability, we managed to train a few teachers in the respective schools we visited to continue the program and hopefully TRU secure some sponsors to bring them to Funafuti to be part of an Annual Inter-School Rugby Festival in the near future.”
Another highlight of their development trip was the inclusion of rugby at the annual Motufoua Secondary School’s Vaitupu Island Youth Sport Day. This was the first-time rugby was included as one of the sports played and, the school hopes it will become a core sport every year.
According to TRU's president, Mika Elisaia, “Tuvalu Rugby Union is grateful to the government of Tuvalu, the Education ministry, Tuvalu National Olympic Committee and individuals for their support in allowing rugby to grow on the island. We now have plans to have a women sevens competition in Funafuti, where we will select our national women 7s team.”