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The ‘Introduction to Mobile Storytelling’ course teaches how mobile phones can be used for content-gathering. / Melissa Fare


By Karen Shrosbery, ABC International Development

Sports journalism has been an impossible dream for many women in the Solomon Islands but the crucial first steps towards creating a female sports media sector have just been taken. 

For the first time in the Pacific island nation, a sports journalism workshop has been held for women in media, to help those with a passion enter the male-dominated industry. 

The workshop was run by local trainers Elizabeth Osifelo and Diane Justus on behalf of the Women in News and Sport (WINS) program, which is part of Team Up. 

Elizabeth, who is a senior journalist and former WINS workshop participant herself, says the workshop made history in a country where there are no women journalists whose roles are dedicated to covering sport.

The Introduction to Mobile Storytelling course teaches key journalism skills using mobile phones. The initial workshops were delivered in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in late March.

For the first time in the Solomon Islands, a sports journalism workshop has been held for women in media. / Elizabeth Osifelo

As part of the training in Honiara, 13 women in sports media, including some journalism students, attended a two-day workshop to learn practical sports reporting skills. 
The highlight for trainer Elizabeth was a field trip to the national Lawson Tama Stadium for the mid-week soccer league. 

"After the game, the workshop participants all joined the press pack on the field to take photos of the players,” she said. "It was rare to see women step onto the pitch and take photos, but so good to see". 

The timing of the Solomon Islands workshop is particularly significant as the country prepares to host the Pacific Games in 2023. 

Elizabeth hopes more women will now ask, and be supported by, their bosses to cover sports events as part of their work in journalism and make the most of the opportunities the Games will hold. 

Participant Mavis Podokolo is a Solomon Islands journalist working for the Island Sun newspaper covering health, women and youth stories, and says the WINS course was an eye-opener. 

"The field trip was an exciting experience for me on what it is like and how it feels to cover sports stories, especially soccer. It also made me understand that before a journalist covers a sporting event, he or she has to know the rules and details of any games that he or she is assigned to cover.

"This training opportunity has brought before me a new challenge in my career to start covering sports stories and events in the Solomon Islands…to support the country's sporting industry to flourish.” 

Ten trainers from across five Pacific countries completed a week-long training development skills course via Zoom and were then mentored remotely. / ABCID
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The workshops have been delivered thanks to a ‘train the trainer’ model that has grown the cohort of Pacific-based trainers able to run such courses.

In this most recent activity, 10 trainers from across five Pacific countries completed a week-long training development skills course via Zoom with ABC specialist media trainer Fiona Churchman and WINS Project Manager Karen Shrosbery. 

They were then mentored remotely in preparing curricula and techniques for delivering the workshops in their respective countries, each tailored to reflect the unique culture and sports media context. 

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), NBC Journalist Waliagai Olewale and freelancer Marie Sakumai, who were participants in the first ever WINS workshop in PNG in 2016, ran the Introduction to Mobile Storytelling course in Port Moresby, despite the challenges of COVID-19. 

In Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, another WINS workshop was run by Vanuatu Cricket Association's Marketing Manager Melissa Fare (a participant in the inaugural WINS workshop in Vanuatu in 2017) and Ana Natoga, Sports Editor at the Vanuatu Daily Post. 

Both workshops were attended by women working for both sports and media organisations, eager to grasp opportunities to produce sports content for their audiences. 

Esther Masingi works for NRL PNG in Port Moresby and says the course was very useful. 

"The workshop really helped me to do better in my work, Now I can use the correct tactics using my mobile to get pictures and videos and write good reports." 

Meanwhile in Fiji, trainers Lavenia Yalovi from Fiji Football Association and freelancer Sofaia Koroitanoa were thrilled with the turn-out in Suva as a group of 30 participants turned up keen to learn. 

Lavenia Yalovi from Fiji Football Association and freelancer Sofaia Koroitanoa were thrilled with the turn out in Suva with a group of 30 participants. / Lavenia Yalovi
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WINS Project Director Jo Elsom says this training has been the perfect solution for pandemic times, and there are plans to continue this approach beyond COVID-19. 

"Pacific women, like Pacific men, are passionate about sport and our role is to increase opportunities for women in sports journalism. This approach empowers Pacific women in media to lead, learn and support each other as they turn career dreams into reality." 

A workshop in Samoa (delivered by Gabrielle Apelu) will take place in April. and there are plans for one in East New Britain, PNG (delivered by Dorcas Tindri) subject to COVID restrictions. 

WINS is run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s International Development Unit (ABCID) and is supported by the Australian Government through Team Up.

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