The Pacific Island Players Association (PIPA) and the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) have today announced a ground-breaking initiative for rugby players in the Pacific Island region that will deliver off-field career and education support through a fully integrated Player Personal Development Programme.

The programme which was launched at the Oceania Rugby AGM in Auckland will invest $650,000 into the Fijian Rugby Personal Development Programme which will be spread over three years.  Additional funds will be allocated later in the year to run parallel programmes in Samoa and Tonga.

With more than 600 Pacific Island Players currently playing professional rugby across the globe, the programme aims to provide player education to support on-going sustainable futures for the Pacific Island Rugby Players and deliver benefits to their countries.

A large number of these players are young Fijian men who grow up in the local villages in Fiji and quickly get thrusted into foreign environments. 

Speaking from his Christchurch base, Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo said “It is great that there will be more support and education for our players.  This programme will challenge players to maximise their potential in rugby and life which we hope will have ongoing advantages for players, Fiji Rugby and the wider Fijian community.”

Also wanting the programme to have an enduring influence on personal lives, families and the wider communities is PIPA board member and current Fijian captain Akapusi Qera.

“Our vision with this programme is for the players to have support before, during and after their careers.  We want them to be engaged, organised and well balanced people,” said Qera.

The program which is supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Reserve Bank of Fiji will provide support in five key personal development areas which include Career and Education, Financial, Family and Culture, Professional Rugby Development, and Personal Development.

Reinforcing their commitment to supporting the off-field development of Fijian players, Fiji Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer John O’Connor stated:  “We want to continue to drive success for Fiji Rugby on the international stage.  

“We are aware that our ability to retain and develop talented players is largely determined by the environment we create for them, the Personal Development Programme will be a central part of our environment that we strive to continuously improve.”

The programme is the culmination of support from The NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, World Rugby, Digicel, New Zealand Rugby Players Association and Massey University. 

A full time Personal Development Manager position based in Fiji is currently being advertised on http://www.fijirugby.com/vacancies/personal-development-manager/  with applications closing on 29 April 2016.

“It is great that there will be more support and education for our players. This programme will challenge players to maximise their potential in rugby and life which we hope will have ongoing advantages for players, Fiji Rugby and the wider Fijian community.” - Crusaders & Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo