Women mak­ing in­roads in mas­cu­line do­main of sport

Fiji Sun - - Comment - OSEA BOLA Feed­back: oseab@fi­jisun.com.fj

Women in Fiji and the Pa­cific are break­ing bar­ri­ers and find­ing their place in pre­vi­ously male dom­i­nated phys­i­cal sports like rugby and foot­ball. Even boxing. It has been a long and a hard jour­ney to bat­tle the dis­par­ity and in­equal­ity. But they are mak­ing in­roads in their bid to over­come prej­u­dice and shift the power im­bal­ance. Once pushed into sports like netball, vol­ley­ball and athletics, our women have un­locked and ven­tured into the once male-only sport­ing ar­eas. There­fore, we ap­plaud the ef­fort put in by sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, the Fiji As­so­ci­a­tion of Sports and Na­tional Sport­ing Com­mit­tee, Women in Sport plus the Fiji Women Crisis Cen­tre for pro­mot­ing the agenda and cre­at­ing the aware­ness. While we will al­ways cel­e­brate the Fi­jian 7s rugby team win­ning our first gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Au­gust, this would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion. World Rugby in­tro­duced the Women Seven Se­ries in 2012-13 in line with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) char­ter which pro­motes equal­ity by in­clud­ing both gen­ders in the global show­piece. The IOC, since 1991, ruled that all new sports want­ing to be in­cluded in the Olympic pro­gramme must fea­ture women’s events. The 2012 Olympic Games in London was the first Olympics where ev­ery par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try in­cluded fe­male ath­letes. It was also the first Olympics in which women com­peted in all sports in the pro­gramme. The 2016 Voda­fone Pri­mary Schools Foot­ball IDC, which ended at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nau­sori yes­ter­day, saw the in­tro­duc­tion of two girls teams in the Un­der-14 com­pe­ti­tion for the first time. This her­alds a break­through and au­gurs well for the devel­op­ment of our women’s foot­ball. Un­doubt­edly they have a long way to go, but the pleas­ing as­pect is they are do­ing it the right way. At times our devel­op­ment fo­cus is top heavy and we crack when push comes to shove on the in­ter­na­tional front sim­ply be­cause we failed to do the ba­sics right in the first place. The Rewa U14 girls beat Suva 2-0 in the fi­nal and hope­fully we can in­crease the num­ber of teams next year. We ap­plaud Fiji Foot­ball, the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, spon­sor and par­ents for their con­sent for the girls to play.

Sport not only brings peo­ple to­gether but is a plat­form where racial dis­crim­i­na­tion is put aside and the spirit of unity and team­work pre­vails. Sports are vi­tal means to en­cour­age and spread the mes­sage of peace, ac­cep­tance, fair­ness, equal­ity and love. Our women are mak­ing in­roads. Olympics is the limit.

It has been a long and a hard jour­ney to bat­tle the dis­par­ity and in­equal­ity but they are mak­ing in­roads in their bid to per­se­vere and shift the power im­bal­ance. Once pushed into sports like netball, vol­ley­ball and athletics etc, our women have un­locked and ven­tured into the once male-only sport­ing ar­eas.

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