Last week, AFL Fiji embarked on four days of education.
On the agenda were the issues not just AFL Fiji staff, but community members deal with head on in their day-to-day lives.
The aim of the week was to help educate the staff working in the Fijian community, so that they can spread the message.
The most important conversation held was around gender-based violence, and gender equality.
Currently, 64.8 per cent of women in Fiji are exposed to gender based violence in their life, so it was incredibly important to hear from the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre about the issue.
AFL Fiji came into operation in 2008, but during the four days, they were able to hold their first ever all staff conference.
Many conversations were held around respect and responsibility, Bula Kick, school competitions, the Fiji development program, talent, as well as training on the AFL Fiji Child Protection Policy.
It also included a health and wellbeing seminar – run by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services – and a first aid course from Handy Training Fiji.
To wrap it all up on Saturday, over 40 participants headed to the Holiday Inn in Suva to participate in the Level 1 Coaching Course, run by AFL Queensland Coaching and Volunteer Education Manager, Steve Wildschut.
That’s the same course that Queensland community coaches go through.
AFL Development Manger- Pacific, Ben Drew, said this was one of the most important weeks of the year so far.
“It’s vitally important to have these kind of sessions because these are the issues the staff, and the community are dealing with right now,” Drew said.
“We want them to understand the issues, and then become the champions of that message when dealing directly with the community, whether it is about gender violence, or general health and well-being.”
For Wildschut, it was a week he won’t forget.
“The whole experience was extremely rewarding. The group had a real thirst for knowledge, and really got involved in the discussions,” he said.
“They achieve outstanding results when you consider the challenges they face. There is huge potential for growth in the area.”
This was all made possible through the help of the AFL, AFL Queensland, and the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnership, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Sports Diplomacy Strategy.
It may have been the first, but it won’t be the last we see of this in the AFL Fijian space.
By Andrew Wiles