Front rower and captain Seruwaia Qaqa who has been a standout player for Nadroga in the ANZ Marama Championship this season says winning games is secondary.
Qauqau, who has been making her mark as a mobile front-rower for Nadroga with great handling skills and pivotal at both attack and defense, says the competition has empowered and provided new pathways for women involved in a sport that is widely regarded as a male sport.
“For many of us, simply playing rugby is winning, because it provides new goals and opportunities we can strive to achieve and succeed at,” Qauqau said.
Rugby, she says has not only provided a way out of being home-bound but can give her entire village the resources to grow, learn and upskill in important areas of life.
“It’s a privilege to play in the ANZ Marama Championship. Rugby has been such a huge driver for me achieving success in my life. The support from our fans makes me extremely proud and pushes us to play bigger and better each week,” she said, echoing findings of a research carried out by ANZ Bank in New Zealand titled, Watch Women Win that showed that active encouragement was a huge driver to enabling women to participate in sport.
The research found that 72 per cent of women attributed success to feeling supported (vs 60% of men). It also found that 64% of women felt that successful women don’t receive as much recognition as men. Forty-two per cent of men who were part of the survey attributed success to luck vs only 33% of women, suggesting women need to work harder to achieve their desired roles. The women interviewed also shared that lack of confidence, fear of failure and fear of judgement stopped them participating in sport.
Findings, that have in part drive the bank’s support of the local women’s provincial rugby competition.
Commenting on the bank’s sponsorship of the ANZ Marama Championship, ANZ Fiji Country Head, Rabih Yazbek said he hopes ANZ’s support of the tournament will encourage more Fijian women to fulfil their personal and professional dreams.
“Fijian women are achieving success in all fields – from sport, to academia, to public health, to business,” Yazbek said.
“But we know there’s still more work to be done. The same fears of failure and judgment are holding women back in business and other facets of their lives too. Sport is a globally recognised vehicle to achieve development in areas such as health, social cohesion, and inclusion.
“ANZ strongly believe in the positive impact sport can have on local communities, by helping people feel supported and encouraged, while learning important life skills that can be applied in other areas. Sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.
“The research highlights the importance of visibility – if you can see it, you can be it. Women need encouragement, support and to have visible role models.
“If we want to accelerate change, we need to celebrate women’s achievements, shine a light on positivity and tell these stories –loudly and proudly.
“ANZ are proud to be the naming rights sponsor of the ANZ Marama Championship. Our hope is that ANZ’s support will encourage more Fijian women to achieve their potential in the sporting arena and in the community,” says Yazbek.
“It’s about more than rugby. The ANZ Marama Championship is about inspiring other women and future generations to pursue their passions.”
The competition continues this week with round 11 of games. Qauqau’s Nadroga team will host Naitasiri, Tailevu host leaders Suva, Lautoka take on Nadi while Yasawa face Namosi.