SUVA, Fiji – From December 3-18, a group of 13 youth rugby coaches from Fiji, Tonga, and Kiribati traveled to the United States on the U.S. Department of State sponsored Sports Visitors program. During their program, they attended conferences, met with their American coaching counterparts, and participated in specialized workshops — all to enhance their mentorship and youth development skills.
“As Pacific youth return to the classroom after two years of virtual learning, it’s important that the adult mentors in their lives help them to regain the social and emotional tools lost during the pandemic. School coaches are influential figures to secondary school students, and this program helps the coaches develop their players into champions on the field, and leaders in their communities. The Sports Visitor program is one way that the U.S. Embassy demonstrates our commitment towards a healthy, resilient, and educated Pacific Region.”, said Embassy Suva’s Deputy Public Affairs Officer Will Romine.
The two-week program took place in the cities of New Orleans, Houston, and Nashville. During that time, the participants met with individuals and organizations dedicated to using sports as a vehicle for youth development. They learned ways to use their coaching skills to help their students and players embrace conflict resolution, community service, and academic excellence in their daily lives. In addition, they enjoyed a variety of American cultural experiences — including attending professional basketball and hockey games, visiting NASA Space Center in Houston, and trying a variety of regional cuisines.
The program was a true exchange, as the youth coaches shared their best practices with their American counterparts, and generously gave pointers to the Houston SaberCats, a professional rugby team in the U.S.’s growing Major League Rugby union.