FORMER Flying Fijians head coach Ilivasi Tabua has joined the Kinoya Old Boys Association (KOBA) to give back to the very community he was raised in.
Tabua, who is the vice-president of the association, has started running rugby clinics to help Kinoya youths to make a sustainable livelihood.
The 48-year-old former Fiji and Australian international is using sports as one of the rehabilitation programs to assist school dropouts and the unemployed youths.
Tabua said sport was an important tool to curb crime which was one of the biggest social problems the country was facing.
He said the community had lot of potential athletes and had produced some national reps like Viliame Veikoso, Suka Waqabaca, late Aisake Nadolo, Kini Koroibuleka, who was the president of the association, in the past.
Tabua said KOBA was specifically formed by the current and former residents of Kinoya with a vision to make the community the safest place in the country.
"I came to Kinoya in 1972. My dad was a teacher at Assemblies of God School so I basically grew up in there before moving to Australia," he said.
"We got a family house in Kinoya where I live with my mum after my dad passed away while the rest of my siblings are in Australia.
"Kinoya has been well known for wrong reasons in the past and its changing and through our projects we have noticed a huge drop in the crime rate lately."
"The reason we are integrating rugby in this program because it teaches the principles of life. We are planning to branch out in other sports like volleyball, netball and rugby league to expose the raw talents these youths have in Kinoya."
Tabua made a special mention of National Rugby League (NRL) star Sisa Waqa.
He said Waqa, who plays for Melbourne Storm, was raised in Nadera and grew up in the then notorious suburbs.
"But he (Waqa) had the skills and got the opportunity and is making a name for himself," Tabua said.
"We want to give these youths the opportunity to realise their potential and do something worthwhile rather than resorting to criminal activities."
Tabua said apart from the sports program, they had a farm project based in Sawani.
He said the youths, under their program, cultivated and planted various crops on the 10-acre land given by the landowners from Sawani.
Tabua said 11 of the youths were also contracted with a local lawn mowing company, Atlantic Hire.
"We have taken a holistic approach in helping the youths in this community. We are also partners with Tosa Bussan from where we buy fish and sell it to the underprivileged community members at a cheap price because a good diet is very important for a healthy lifestyle.
"Through the lawn moving contract, the youths are able to earn $30 each and support their family members through the earnings."
Atlantic Hire director Anil Chand, who moved in Kinoya earlier this year, said they were looking for contracts to cater for more unemployed youths from the community.
KOBA chairman Pastor Sisa Waqa said the youths under their program met every month for devotion and spiritual building.
"Spiritual building is as important as physical and mental building. It's important to create a good relationship with God before they can create a good relationship in their neighbourhood to make Kinoya a safer and much better place to live in," Waqa said.
Meanwhile, KOBA is organising an Invitational 7s tournament on December 7 and 8 to assist with their self-funded projects.