We are very proud to announce that Fijian rugby star, Mr Seru Rabeni has joined the Think Pacific team as our Ambassador for Sports Development in Fiji. As an International rugby legend, Rabeni’s passion, skills and experience make him the perfect role model for encouraging youth rugby development in the outer islands.
Seru is currently back over in Fiji preparing for the Pacific Nations Cup with the national squad, and shall be supporting our overseas team as they prepare for the July 2009 expedition.
With Think Pacific working in partnership with the Ministry of Sport in Fiji for the development of sports across the remote island communities, it is a huge honour to have Seru’s support. Very recently Seru has been pushing the youth projects in his home village, encouraging sports initiatives alongside efforts to improve community development by funding fishing projects and improved transport for the communities. Seru has established an annual sports festival for the island of Vanua Levu, where children from the poor villages across the province are able take part in rugby tournaments. This combined with Fijian pop band Doki Doki and traditional feasts, is a huge spectacle and fantastic in raising funds for the local community and inspiring local children to pick up a rugby ball and get involved. Seru says with a smile:
“The local youths are just waiting to be given their chance, both on the sports field and in business, and you won’t find people with more passion and hunger to improve”
Rabeni is renowned at both his club, Leicester Tigers, who he joined in 2004, and at international level for his physicality and bone crunching tackles, a commitment that earnt him the nickname “Rambo”, and a commitment and passion that we hope to utilize for our project aims.
Rabeni grew up in Bua, Fiji and was a promising rugby talent from his early schooldays. He first played provincial rugby for Lautoka in 1998-99 while studying at Lautoka Teachers College, before moving on to the capital’s club, Suva, and making his international test debut in 2000 against Japan. Seru quickly became a senior member of the Fiji national team and a vital man in both attack and defence, starting all four of Fiji’s pool game in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. In 2004 he represented the newly formed Pacific Islanders, scoring a try against New Zealand. Rabeni further represented Fiji in the 2007 World Cup in France, playing in all 4 Pool B games and the quarterfinals. He was instrumental in the Pool B decider against Wales, helping Fiji reach the quarterfinals for the 2nd time since 1987.
Sport is a way of life in Fiji, and Think Pacific, the Ministry of Sport and Rabeni look forward to driving forward Rugby initiatives alongside our sports projects in Netball, Volleyball, Hockey, Football and Rounders. These projects provide island children with their first opportunity to play and train as we work to establish primary school teams, initiate grass roots children’s leagues and follow in Rabeni’s footsteps by organsing regular community sports festivals. Chatting to Seru it is clear that he recognises the need for development of sports at a young age, saying:
“ The kids are so used to relying on instinct and natural ability and that’s why Fiji can be so entertaining on the sports field, but sometimes you need some structure and you have to learn that early”
We hope that Seru will inspire both our expedition teams and the Fijian communities themselves who revere him so highly, as we look forward to accomplishing impressive sports development goals.