REBELS NAME FAINGA’A AS NEW ACCESS RUGBY AMBASSADOR
The RaboDirect Rebels are pleased to announce that new recruit Colby Fainga’a has been offered, and accepted, the role of Access Rugby Ambassador for the 2014 season.
Colby’s kind nature, genuine willingness to help and generosity with his spare time all played major roles in his appointment, as did his own cultural background.
“The opportunity for me to become the Access Rugby Ambassador probably had a lot to do with my heritage,” he says. “Being half Aboriginal, half Tongan, I can hopefully break through into a program with a heavy focus on those communities. I suppose the Club saw it as a great opportunity for me to give back, and I was really impressed when I went up to Mildura on the weekend and saw the program in place for the first time.”
Colby spent last weekend in the Mildura/Robinvale region alongside fellow new recruit Tom Sexton, Access Rugby Program Manager Nic Henderson and Access Rugby Development Officers Darlene Thomas and Frank Rees.
The trip was Colby’s first exposure to the program since his appointment, and spending time with the CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) kids involved in the program was an eye-opening experience for him.
“It’s a massive privilege to be the Access Rugby Ambassador,” Fainga’a said. “I’m happy to admit I didn’t really fully understand the role until I got up to Mildura and Robinvale and saw what was going on, and how the program tries to help young kids out and make a difference. A lot of kids don’t get the opportunities that more privileged families have, and we are giving them some better opportunities and different pathways to what they have grown up knowing.”
While the program uses Rugby as the tool for active change, positive results are determined primarily off the field; Fainga’a believes that this is one of the most positive aspects of Access Rugby.
“I think the fact that Rugby isn’t the whole focus is the best thing about the program. We aren’t trying to find Super Rugby players or base the program on building the Melbourne Rebels; it’s about getting the kids out and active and creating opportunities for them around different pathways for keeping them in school, finding work and out of trouble.”
Colby’s twin brothers, both Wallaby and Queensland Reds players, are known across the country for their generosity and community work, and Colby would dearly love to follow in his brothers’ footsteps.
“Saia and Anthony do a tremendous amount of work with Mission Australia and the community, and certainly more than I have ever done,” Colby says. “Seeing them, and how they go about community involvement, has inspired me to do a little bit and help out whenever I can. I’m in such a privileged position as a professional sportsperson that going out and doing things like this opens my eyes and shows me how the standards of living differ between people.”
Colby enjoyed spending time with Henderson and Sexton in Mildura, despite the extreme heat, and said Irish recruit Tom was a hit with the kids.
“It’s great to hang out with Nic, he’s an awesome bloke and he is doing everything that he can to keep the program flowing well. He’s doing a lot of work to help the kids, and I have been really impressed with how he has transferred from being a Rugby player into working in the office here.
“Tom Sexton does like to talk a lot, which was quite funny on the trip! ‘Sexy’ even managed to tell a long story to the group about his method for making poached eggs, which I’m sure the kids had no idea what he was talking about, but he was great with the kids up there; they loved him. They enjoyed his company and his accent.”
Access Rugby has been an extremely successful venture undertaken jointly by the RaboDirect Rebels with the Victorian Government. It is designed to use Rugby as a conduit to teach underprivileged CALD (Cultural and Linguistically Diverse) youth life skills and communication skills, and also teach them what it means to be part of a team. These are all key ingredients in helping young people become job ready.
In that regard, Access Rugby works very closely with community organisations, local police and employers to develop community education programs that will assist program participants in securing employment, whilst at the same time enjoying a sporting experience that keeps them active and putting their energies to good use.