Sevens legend Mr Waisale Serevi talks about the importance of respect and humility.
An event titled Rugby for Change: Celebrating Diversity with Serevi, featuring sevens legend Mr Waisale Serevi and Mr Rocky Khan, former All Blacks halfback at The University of the South Pacific (USP) saw students, staff, the media and members of the public come out in huge numbers at the Laucala Campus on 2 August 2018.
Organised by the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education’s (FALE) School of Social Sciences (SOSS) at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS), the event was a partnership with the Fiji Association of the Deaf and the New Zealand High Commission.
In 2013, SOSS hosted the Fiji Rugby Centenary Conference which marked the School’s first partnership with the NZ High Commission and in 2016, SOSS organised a special seminar titled Rugby, Rio, and Serevi: The Pride of a Nation, the School’s first partnership with Mr. Serevi.
Mr Serevi and Mr Khan (garlanded) with the Fiji Deaf Rugby Union.
On behalf of Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of FALE, Dr Yoko Kanemasu, Associate Dean Planning and Quality of FLAE said, “this event brought everyone together again – USP, Mr. Serevi and the NZ High Commission, as well as women’s rugby players we have been working closely with for a number of years”.
“We are very pleased that it also created a new partnership with the Fiji Association of the Deaf and the Fiji Deaf Rugby Union,” she stated.
“Mr. Serevi kindly agreed to be our ambassador of gender equality, cultural diversity, and disability inclusion in rugby, sport and society. The event promotes women’s rugby, disability rugby, and rugby for everyone,” she stated.
“We are excited that this year, Mr. Serevi is joined by Mr. Rocky Khan and we are truly privileged to have these two rugby legends with us to celebrate diversity,” she added.
Other key figures included Ms Lailanie Burns, a Women’s rugby rep and Mr Paula Ranatawake and Manasa Narita from the Fiji Deaf Rugby Union.
In his keynote address, Mr Serevi shared about his experience growing up and wanting to bring people together through his passion for the sport. He made his Sevens debut at Hong Kong in 1989 and played at the inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993. While Fiji was unable to claim the Melrose Cup on this occasion, in 1997 and 2005 Serevi was on hand to help them to the title.
Mr Serevi emphasised the importance of respect and humility, values imparted by his late father which he has carried until today.
Mr Khan inspired the audience by sharing his dreams saying he hoped that being the first national player of Indian and Rotuman descent to don the All Blacks jersey, barriers will be broken.
He stated that ever since his youth, he dreamt of making it into the All Black 7s team and it was sacrifice, dedication and hard work that got him through. He advised the students to break new ground by coming out of their comfort zones.
Ms Burnes encouraged women to take up the sport of rugby despite the challenges adding that people’s mindset was gradually changing for the better.
Mr Ranatawake, Fiji Deaf Rugby Association manager also inspired the crowd saying they did not let their disability stop them from pursuing their passion for rugby.
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