Footys4All in Fiji

Footys4All and Almanac in Fiji

Footys4All and Almanac in Fiji

A return journey to ones birth place and homeland after decades away is always going to be an emotional occasion but to return in a position to offer hope and a sporting opportunity to my fellow Fijian brothers and sisters made it such an extra special  return.

I returned to Fiji for the first time since I left as a two year old, to present Footys4all at the Island Breeze Rugby Plus Conference on the island of Ovalau. There were over 100 youthful Fijian athletes from all parts of Fiji looking for an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union professional athlete Sefanai Navaialu and to distribute hope and a sporting opportunity to the island children across 6 village community schools.

Three years ago Sefania sat in the same room as this year’s participants.

As a farmer who enjoyed playing club rugby and given an opportunity through this Waqa Baraviala led Island Breeze Rugby Plus Conference, the rest is history, proving time and again that given an opportunity anything is possible.

It is so important that all kids regardless of their situation are given this opportunity and possibly a professional sporting career.

We spent 5 days living as true Fijian villagers, learning about my culture and helping inspire Fijian youth to improve their knowledge of rugby and more importantly to become leaders off the field in their home villages and communities.

Along the way we distributed hope through new books, including John Harms Footy Almanac and Tony Wilson’s Stuff Happens: Jack and sporting opportunities through new Ross Faulkner, Steeden, Gilbert Footys4all balls and CGR sportswear footy shorts across 6 Ovalau primary schools.

New Rugby balls here cost $140. Books are in very short supply and a loaf of bread costs 75 cents which is a luxury purchase for many on the island.

Over the 5 days visiting and travelling through many villages and communities, I saw 3 rugby balls, one excitingly from Footys4all and two extremely worn and flat well-used balls.

Rugby games in the villages were played in long grass, on dust, on shells by the beach, in burnt off grass, without goals or marked lines or fresh water or shorts or jerseys but full of passion, skill and desire to win.

It brought back to me the fact that a game can be played without many of the items we take for granted, but without the ball the game simply couldn’t be played and that is how important the power of the ball is.

The joy and smiles on the Fijian children’s faces as they spotted the new Footys4all balls, books and footy shorts that were to be distributed to them by the 5th tallest man in the world, Footys4all volunteer ambassador and 7 foot 7 Fijian Kaliova Selei was seriously very emotional.

Kaliova Selei presents Footys4All to young Fijian

Kaliova Selei presents Footys4All to young Fijian

We take so much for granted in Australia and are so lucky and privileged to have pretty much whatever we want. Sadly it is not the case in many places around the world and it is up to us to make that change to ensure the basic necessities of education and sport are available to all children. It is our responsibility and doesn’t take much to make it happen.

Six schools later and our mission completed, I knew our goal to provide the same education and sporting opportunities to all Fijian children was well under way and weren’t they happy.

John’s and team Almanacs ongoing support in donating Footy Almanacs to all the community work I do with Footys4all is so appreciative and makes such a difference.

Footys4all starting local going global thanks you all for your support.

 

Michael Gallus

Footys4all volunteer founding director http://www.footys4all.com.au/

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Fantastic work. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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