Rugby union in Nauru
Vashti Adam is a community development officer and coach for the Nauru Rugby Inclusion Impact Program, which is delivered in partnership by Nauru Rugby Union, Oceania Rugby and Rugby Australia, and supported by Team Up.
The program uses rugby union as a tool to challenge gender stereotypes and seeks to improve the prospects, inclusion and empowerment of women and girls in Nauru.
As a former national track athlete, Vashti shares how the program is having a positive impact towards instilling respect and changing gender perspectives in Nauru.
“Respect is something that I’ve noticed has been missing within our communities, especially amongst the younger generation. Through the program, we are teaching kids about moral values, especially respect.
“They learn about the importance of teamwork and about being gender inclusive. We help provide a safe space where they feel confident to encourage each other to participate and give their best in the games and drills.
“The rugby sessions are embedded with strong social messages. Through participating in these activities, children build strong characters and the results are evident off the field.”
Having been in the role for two years and witnessing the changes in participants’ lives, Vashti has become a strong advocator for the use of sport in achieving positive life skill outcomes for children.
“If I could choose one word to describe the program, it would be ‘discipline’.
"The children that have participated in our program have shown a lot of changes in their discipline. Some of these changes include being more attentive, punctual, participating fully, and the boys are more respectful of girls as the sessions progress.
"We have heard from teachers and parents that these changes have also positively impacted their behaviours in the classrooms and at home. This is evident when I meet the kids while I’m out with my family. They always address me politely as ‘madam’.”
With the news of the extension of Team Up until 2025, Vashti recently joined her Nauru Rugby colleagues (Operations Manager Johnny Caginilotu and Vice President Dagan Kaierua) at a joint Fiji-Nauru workshop in Suva, which was aimed at building partners' capacity for the next phase of Team Up.
“It was very valuable to get together with staff from similar Team Up programs and to learn from their experiences,” Vashti reflected. “This has allowed our team to better prepare for delivering our activities this year. It was particularly powerful to hear stories of impact from the other programs, which has reminded me of the importance of my work.”
According to Johnny Caginilotu, Vashti is one of their go-to coaches. “Vashti is always willing to participate. Even on her day off, she goes out of her way to explain our values to the children, even elaborating further in the Nauruan language.
“It’s fulfilling to see how the program has changed not only the lives of participants but also of those who work to deliver the activities. We are the only Team Up-supported program in Nauru and we are very proud of the impact we are having.”
- Rugby Union