Since the club’s inception into Australian Rugby in 2010, the Melbourne Rebels have been blessed by a rich history of world-class Fijian stars who have represented the club and set AAMI Park alight.
So, when the Rebels were presented the opportunity to repay the Fijian community for its unrivalled impact on both the Melbourne Rebels and Victorian Rugby, our club jumped at it!
Led by RUPA Player Development Manager, Moana Leilua and Liz Zamanis-Robinson at the Katalyst Foundation, the Melbourne Rebels were successfully able to donate excess playing and training gear to the Bua Rugby Union Club in Nambouwalu, Northern Fiji.
Leilua was was thrilled the unused stock would be finding a new home, while assisting a community that has been so important to the game of rugby here in Victoria.
“Footey had it in his heart last year about getting a container to send stuff over to Fiji, but then COVID hit, so this is just an extension of that,” said Leilua.
“I actually found out about the initiative through Fiona Luth from the Fijian Book Drive.”
“With our club holding such a strong reading culture, there was this company that I looked into that would send books back to Fiji for young people to get access to.
“Fiona then got me in touch with Liz Zamanis-Robinson after I brought up the fact that we had a few boxes of equipment and old stock left over in storage and I didn’t want them to be thrown away, so Liz and her husband help facilitate this great initiative where we could donate this stock to communities in need back in Fiji.
“These two ladies who helped facilitate this initiative are non-Fijians, which for me is really encouraging to see Australians creating these organisations which provide such important care to communities in need.”
Fiji’s impact on the Melbourne Rebels, inspiring the next generation in a predominately AFL-dominated market, has been profound.
From the emergence of Sefanaia Naivalu, who became the club’s first player to sign directly from the Dewar Shield in 2015, to the undisputed greatness of Marika Koroibete, who, since arriving in 2017, has gone on to score the second highest number of points in Rebels’ history, our fans have witnessed some of the most exciting Fijian playmakers in world rugby to date.
Leilua believed it was important for the club to repay its deep gratitude for these cherished memories, and the lasting connection these players have made with the winder Victorian Pasifika and Fijian communities .
“Our Fijian and Pasifika communities are integral to the strength of Victorian rugby and its ability to thrive here.”
“I think over sixty percent of the playing base here in Victoria are of Pasifika heritage.
“We’ve had a number of incredible Fijian players in our team, along with a strong Fijian community in Victoria, so to be able to do our part and repay our appreciation in a small way, is a good story for everyone involved and only strengthens our relationship with both our community, but also the motherland.”
With the inclusion of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika in the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific competition, 2022 shapes as an unforgettable year for our Fijian and Pasifika communities, and one that will inspire Victorian rugby’s next generation for many years to come.
Super Rugby Pacific season is just around the corner!
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