From where I stand: “It’s about lifelong skills on and off the rugby field”

Photo: UN Women/ Jacqui Berrell
Neli Nabogi, 34, grew up in a family where girls were expected to listen and not speak. As a result, she lacked confidence as a young woman. That, and so much more, has changed since she was selected to become a rugby coach for the new Get Into Rugby PLUS program. The program is empowering coaches and adolescent players, who learn rugby and life skills.

"This program has changed me, and made me a confident woman.
I come from a family where I hardly had a say. When they spoke, I listened. I myself had the mindset that rugby was a male sport, and when I used to see women playing rugby, I commented [negatively] about them.
I am so lucky to be part of Get Into Rugby PLUS! When I started this role, I coached the under 10th grade [rugby team] in my school, and the male parents looked at me and laughed— ‘a woman being a rugby coach!’ I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to be undermined by their looks and their comments; I am going to be stronger for the children’.
I hope that the knowledge I impart to the children will give them a different perspective about gender equality and the role of men and women, and help them tackle the difficulties in our society, especially discrimination and violence against women and children, which is common.
We teach children lifelong skills, all based around the values of rugby, like integrity and respect, and encourage them to talk about how they can relate what they’ve learnt about those values into their [everyday] lives. I help them become problem solvers in their village, and lifelong responsible citizens on and off the rugby field.
Times have changed and roles are changing. Fiji is not the Fiji of before. If we look at the cost of living nowadays...women need to go to work so they can help support the family. They need to be educated too. 
This program is a very important [platform] to teach children how to value and respect people and to adapt to the changes and shifts in our culture as Fiji is being developed.
[And] it’s not just about rugby, it’s about lifelong values and skills both on and off the rugby field.”
Rugby is a powerful channel of influence in the Pacific. Get Into Rugby PLUS leverages this popular sport to challenge discriminatory social norms, gender roles and violence against women and girls as part of a broader regional program between Oceania Rugby and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO). UN Women’s support is through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) funded by the European Union and Australian Government with support from UN Women.