Waisake Rauroro and David Rodan receive a junior rugby award. Waisake represented Australia in rugby league in 2008, and David now plays Australian rules football for Port Adelaide.
Source: Museum Victoria Fiji Community Photographic Collection
For many ethnic Fijians sport is the essence of the Fijian character. Modern games have largely replaced traditional competitions such as veidre walai (tug of war), but sport, especially men’s sport, remains central to Fijian society.
In Victoria, rugby is an important part of any community gathering. More than just a game of speed, strength and skill, rugby symbolises courage and loyalty and strengthens social connections, both within the Fijian community and with other Pacific Islanders. Excellence in sport has been the driving force in some migration stories, with young Fijian men able to pursue education, training and professional sporting careers in Australia.
Rugby is the special passion of ethnic Fijians, while soccer connects all Fiji-born people. Soccer holds particular significance for Fiji Indians, who became involved in the sport through local schools and organisations. The local soccer club was often the centre of the Fiji Indian community. Soccer teams from Victoria’s Fiji Indian community regularly toured Fiji until the recent unrest, and they hope to travel there again some day soon.
The sporting field has traditionally been a male domain, but as Europeans introduced tennis, netball and cricket, women increasingly took part in organised sport. Their involvement, however, has never had the cultural importance of men’s games.