Spreading the gospel of rugby league in Ra

IN a bid to spread the gospel of rugby league in the province of Ra, organisers of the divisional competition are tirelessly trying to instil to the youths along the Rakiraki-Ra corridor the importance of how the sport can change their lives in years to come.

The sport is regarded as the second highest played sport by men in the country.

With not much time to spare as I attended an anticipating match between the Burenitu Cowboys and Nabua Broncos a fortnight ago, much has been discussed on how the sport can progress in the province.

Echoed with the need to progress the sport of rugby league in the province, Pauliasi Vakayalia, a teacher by profession took the helm of leadership as co-ordinator along with Isaia Vonoyali and Josefa Nayacatabu with the aim to make the sport rule in the Ra province.

According to Vakayalia, the desire, to play the sport is in the minds of every Fijian as this is a version similar to rugby union and the idea of how it’s played is almost the same.

As the sport took control over rugby union in some of the villages in Ra since its inception in 2011, there is a big question on the need to improve the grassroots players and how to mould them to become professionals.

Senior teams have made an impact in the top eight divisions with the Cowboys seeming to become a major force in weekly competition. Their presence in the national arena has been witnessed in some of its top players in the East team against the West brigade.

And apart from the sponsorship Vodafone Fiji has provided, calls are being made if there can be other sponsors to come on board in the province to take the sport in another dimension of competition.

Most of the clubs in the province are village-based teams and the support from the villagers is never to be questioned as they brave each Saturday to cheer for their teams.

This, after the management from Tobu Village, whose grounds were the initial venue, stepped down as the Ra High School grounds were seen best suited for the competition.

“We have the players, but the resources to help us build a formidable outcome are a big question with the province lacking the resources such as a gym and sporting equipment,” he said.

“That is why we are pleading if there can be other avenues that we can get help from. For example, if other sponsors are eligible to come on board.

“We are only allocated with our weekly funds to pay for the officials and other expenses. For the fund to help us with in our development, this is where the loopholes are.”

Vakayalia reiterated the call for consistency in the development of the sport in the country if the need to improve the standard of how it is played.

“We need consistency in this regard. Development officers should frequently visit remote places such as Ra,” the Ra High School teacher said.

“With many visits, players will learn new things and at least we will realise that the whole of FNRL is caring on us too. For the past seasons, there have been visits but not on frequent basis.

“We have the junior grade, the premier and the senior competing every week and apart from that, Burenitu Cowboys are playing in the top eight divisions.”

As the season looks to a successful second round of competition, the Ra rugby league clubs are optimistic success will come in its due course.

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