On Friday 24th November teams took to the field for the Ending Violence against Women (E.V.A.W.) Bluesky National Sevens Tournament on the eve of International day for Ending Violence against Women, November 25th, to play to win and to galvanise action towards this cause.
Samoa Rugby Union’s E.V.A.W. Blue Sky Seven’s Tournament is in its third year and has been growing since its inception. 2017 has seen the largest number of Women’s Teams, seven in total, competing for championship glory. Combined with 14 Men’s teams, it made this the most well attended E.V.A.W. themed tournament to date.
One of the focuses of this tournament is to encourage women and girls to take up rugby as a sport and to continue to have confidence to compete in such a male dominated arena.
And although Rugby for women is growing as seen in our Manu Sina team who are very much a team in their own right who compete on the international stage of Rugby, the local girls and women are yet to fight traditional ways of thinking and to find clear and permanent pathways into the sport.
“Creating an equal playing field is what U.N. Women’s message and support is all about. Giving our women and girls the opportunity to play any sport and reach their full potential is what we’d love to see.
Women and girls have grit about them, that you don’t often see in us males. We know they are big achievers and big thinkers. We want them to believe in themselves and remember that Sky’s the limit,” said Bluesky Country Manager, Alex Abraham.
To encourage more equal participation of women and girls in rugby, Oceania Rugby has partnered with UN Women to raise the number of women’s teams represented in regional competitions as well as take steps to increase more women in managerial roles.
“We must all work together to end violence against women and girls,” said U.N. Women Country Programme Coordinator, Papali’i Mele Maualaivao, “Because everyone has the right to live their life free from violence.”
“The Sevens Tournament is a perfect platform to speak out against violence against women and girls given rugby’s popularity in Samoa and across the Pacific region,” she continued.
“Part of ending violence against girls and women involves breaking down rigid gender roles and stereotypes. Creating more opportunities for women to safely take part in a high-status Pacific Island activity helps. “
Kylie Bates/Bruce Cook/Richard Sapias, Oceania Rugby.
Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) has developed its relationship with U.N. Women and Oceania Rugby over the last three years, dedicating high profile matches to E.V.A.W. as well as increasing support for women’s teams to participate in the national E.V.A.W. tournament.
This partnership has now had added value from corporate giant Bluesky who are rugby advocates with their extensive sponsorship of the Manu Samoa Sevens.
The extended partnership and support connects with the World Rugby plan to accelerate the global development of women in rugby by increasing strategic and sustainable investment partners and groups sustainable participation opportunities.
The tournament was also a chance for Samoan Rugby players to not only compete for national recognition, but promote women in sports in Samoa and address a social problem that affects all citizens of our island nation.
Friday’s E.V.A.W. Bluesky National Sevens tournament saw Aana Blues win the grand final cup for the women and Moata’a win as they did in round 2, the grand final cup for the men during this round 4.