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Making local sports inclusive

Thursday 2 December 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in

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Making local sports inclusive
Students who took part in the Ability Rippa Rugby programme showing off their certificates proudly as inclusive education advisor Andre Hansen looks on. 21120115

The aim to make local sports inclusive took a giant stride yesterday with the first ever Ability Rippa Rugby Day programme at Ngatangiia field in Muri.

Just under 20 children living with disabilities turned up to the Ngatangiia field bright and early yesterday morning to play some rippa rugby.

They were part of the inaugural Ability Rippa Rugby Day programme run by the Cook Islands Rugby Union in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC).

The programme served as the curtain-raiser to the end-of-year Under 13 Rarotonga Schools Quick Rip 7s Championships participated by five schools from around Rarotonga.

During the Ability Rippa Rugby Day programme, the participants focused on practicing and becoming more familiar with skills including passing, running with the ball, and kicking the ball through the poles.

An hour was spent on the field, not only playing some rugby and practicing new skills but learning how to manage themselves when faced with conflict on the field.

Apii Avarua made an impressive start to the day with many fast runners on their side. 21120105

Andre Hansen, Ministry of Education’s inclusive education advisor, said that the morning was excellent.

Hansen said it was great to watch the children on the field and see how each of them showed skills in different areas which they had not seen before. 

“It’s not just about rugby. They get to learn communication skills, social skills, and how to manage themselves,” he said.

At the end of the one-hour session, a prize-giving was held to reward students who had stood out in all the areas that were covered. These students received certificates as well as $10 Vodafone vouchers as a prize.

Hansen said that it was important for all students to be included in sporting events, and any kind of event for that matter, especially those living with disabilities or learning difficulties.

“A compassionate society includes and looks after everybody. The more we interact, the more we understand better. We must always be working towards being a compassionate society.”

With this being the first Ability Rippa Rugby programme held in the Cook Islands, Hansen shared that he would like to make it an annual thing and looked forward to creating more opportunities for inclusion in other sports including swimming.

An Apii Avarua student makes a run around the opposing team towards the try line. 21120103

Shortly after the prize-giving, the Primary Schools Quick Rip 7s Championship commenced with Apii Avarua making a strong start against Apii Arorangi in the girl’s match and Nukutere College scoring tries after try in the boys’ battle.

Five schools took part in the Quick Rip 7s Championship – Apii Avarua, Apii Arorangi, Nukutere College, Titikaveka College, and Papaaroa School.

Ben Koteka, Cook Islands Rugby Union’s rugby development manager, said: “World Rugby believes that everyone should have opportunity to play the game or to be part of rugby regardless of their country racial-ethnic origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, language, religion, politics or any other reason.

As rugby has evolved into the modern global sport it is today, the core character-building values of – discipline, respect, integrity, passion, and solidarity – have remained consistent since the game’s inception in 1823. These are the character-building values that underpin World Rugby’s vision as a sport for all, true to its values.”