The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum commemorated this years International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) celebration with a month long programme of ICERD clinics, ending with an ICERD Tag Rugby Festival. The activity was a first for the organisation to use sports as a unifying and advocacy tool, of which CCF is very content with having witnessed the response and enthusiasm of the students that participated. CCF partnered with former flying Fijian, Seremaia Bai and his newly founded Rugby Academy (Fiji) in this years ICERD activity.

The 2017 ICERD activity featured a number of ICERD clinics conducted at 5 different schools in  the  greater  Nausori  area educating students on the values of multiculturalism and unity aligned to the theme of the activity, Give a Red Card to Racism. The theme, which blends the Red Card, a sports jargon with fighting racism, tries to  illustrate  CCF’s aim of promoting multiculturalism and eliminating racial discrimination in Fiji, and in our schools through this  activity.

CCF opted to have the activity focused on the Nausori area for a number of reasons. Firstly, to raise awareness on the issue of Racism in Nausori as most activities on the issue  are usually held in Suva, and the team believed it was about time to take the ICERD day celebrations out of the capital city. Secondly, since it was the first time for CCF to run such an activity involving school students and sports, CCF wanted to be able to properly facilitate the activity but is hoping to widen its scope of participating schools in the coming years.

CCF is thankful to the European Union (EU) and Brot Fur Die Welt (BFDW) that funded the ICERD activity for 2017. CCF is also grateful to the Ministry of Education for the opportunity to work with the selected schools and also thanks the various teachers and students of Lelean Memorial School, Shreedhar Secondary School, Vunimono Secondary School, Sila Central High School and Rugby Academy Fiji for their kind participation and support throughout the course of the activity.

The Clinics

The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of  Racial  Discrimination  (ICERD)  day was commemorated with a different  approach  compared to the past few years that the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum would usually have.

This year CCF aimed to create more awareness using Tag Rugby as our tool. We selected four schools in the Nausori are  and carried  out  clinics  before  the day of the event which was to be celebrated on March 25th.

During the clinics we had an hour presentation on (ICERD) and how we could fight racism, our presentation included videos and class interactions that also brought out alot of answers from the students. Questions were given to students to answer as a group where they all contributed, students then selected a member to present their answers. Many came with interesting solutions and it was very good to hear what they had to say about ways they could fight racism and their understanding to the question.

At the beginning of the presentation majority of the students were somewhat reserved and held back but as we discussed further into the topic the students began to feel relaxed and honest about their thoughts on Racism. We were very happy to see solutions and testimonials from the students about their thoughts on the  workshop.

On the day of the celebration it was pleasing to see that most of the students turned up for the festival, from different ethnic groups  and played together as a team. There were no prizes since everyone was a winner on the day of the competition.

CCF  believes that the  approach  of sports used as a tool to carry our message Give A Red Card to Racism had a great impact since sports is one  of the things that unites Fijians. We look forward to creating more awareness on fighting racial discrimination and other issues that affects us as a nation.

The ICERD clinics saw an average of 30 students participating per clinic at the selected schools. Students learnt about the convention and its origins.

Videos of multiculturalism and peace was also a key part of the clinics. Each clinic rounded off with an introductory session to tag rugby, facilitated by Rugby Academy of Fiji’s very own Mr. Vueti Tupou.

The tag rugby session was a practical session of the clinic as students had already learned about multiculturalism from the earlier presentations. Students of different races and backgrounds then teamed up and tried their best to work together to outscore their opponents. The tag rugby sessions included boys and girls allowing both genders to have a go on the rugby field. The target group for the activity was within the age group of 16-19 years old.

The schools visited were Lelean Memorial School, Shreedhar Secondary School, Vunimono Secondary School, Sila Central High School and Rugby Academy Fiji.

The Festival

The final event of the 2017 ICERD activity was the inaugural ICERD Tag Rugby Festival. The festival took place on March 25 at the Ratu Cakobau Park, Ground 2.

It was  a  successful  event  with  over a hundred students present at the grounds on the cloudy Saturday morning. Initially the festival was to feature 6 teams only, Lelean Memorial School, Shreedhar Secondary School, Vunimono Secondary School, Sila Central High School, Rugby Academy Fiji and a CCF mixed team. However, due to the overwhelming attendance from the students especially Vunimono High School, an additional 2 teams were created to enable everyone to partake in the games. Aside from the main tag rugby matches, a sack race was also held among the teams as an ice breaker and to also include the younger children present at the event.

Lelean Memorial Secondary School faced off with Vunimono Secondary School in the final of the 2017 ICERD Tag Rugby Festival. Lelean had won the final, however neither teams received a prize as CCF believed that everyone was a winner. CCF hopes to make the festival an annual event on its calendar.

The Jerseys

CCF also  went  the  extra  mile  with the 2017 ICERD activity and ensured that right down to the attire of the participating teams, was messages or symbols of multiculturalism. Each team had a jersey designed in house to represent a particular culture and their art or popular motifs.

The Goal Post pads

CCF also donated rugby goal post pads with ICERD and human rights messages to the Rugby Academy of Fiji (RAF). RAF founder and director Seremaia Bai, said he was very grateful for the donation and thanked CCF for its contribution towards the development of the students at the rugby academy.

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