Cathy Sets A Legacy For Women To Build On

A physiotherapist by profession, the first woman from the Pacific to be a World Rugby Council member, Cathy Wong has had a magnificent, successful journey as an active woman involved
05 Jan 2019 10:37
Cathy Sets A Legacy For Women To Build On
Cathy Wong at the ANZ Stadium in Suva. .

A physiotherapist by profession, the first woman from the Pacific to be a World Rugby Council member, Cathy Wong has had a magnificent, successful journey as an active woman involved in sports.

Wong has played an integral part in Fijis sporting history which includes:

  • Board member of the Fijian National Sports Commission;\
  • Board member of the Fiji Association of Sports, and National Olympic Committee;
  • Chef de Mission for Team Fiji at the 2016 Rio Olympics, 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea and 2013 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna.
  • Former physio/director for Fiji Rugby Union
  • Recipient of the Fiji Olympic Order and in 2013 was made an Officer of the Order of Fiji.

She also has met sporting greats and statesman from around the world and she has a story on all of them and this includes; Nelson Mandela, boxing legend Muhammed Ali, champion runner Haile Gebreselassie, swimming legend Ian Thorpe and gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

Wong shares her work , life experiences , achievements and challenges.


Overview on what you do

  • Physiotherapy Director, Suva Physio Centre.

Established in 1996
Largest private physiotherapy service provider Fiji and the Pacific.

Consultations and treatment for medical conditions across the board :

  • Primary & preventative physiotherapy care (cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, neurology for adults and pediatrics)
  •  Counseling/psychology
  •  Yoga
  •  OHS compliance
  •  Corporate wellness
  • Referrals to specialists (local/overseas)
  •  Geriatric care and rehabilitation classes
  •  Ante-Natal and Women’s Health classes
  •  Rehabilitation products
  •  Manual therapy and electrotherapy
  •  Nutritionist
  •  Speech therapy
  •  Sports physiotherapy
  • Oceania Rugby women’s director and former Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) physiotherapist and Oceania Rugby representative to the World Rugby Council.


What motivates you to do what you do

I love what I do and I believe in giving back to the community. I am in a position to be able to influence change.


What are you most excited or passionate about?

I am passionate about making and creating a difference in the lives of those I come into contact with in all aspects of my life.


What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?

– To upskill women to be able to take on Board positions, executive positions on sporting federations

– The increase in numbers of women on Boards and who hold executive positions across all sports.

– Grow the numbers of girls who play rugby for an activity

– Provide the framework and system to .enable girls/women equal opportunity both on and off the field (equal opportunity to train, get fitted, salary, benefits etc)

– To be a mentor for girls and women around the world


Personal goals

Personal goals are to be healthy and spend time with my grandchildren.


What motivated you to become a Physiotherapist?

I initially wanted to become a teacher. Physiotherapist was a chance application from which I have never looked back. I was able to do both when I taught physiotherapy at Fiji National University (formally Fiji School of Medicine)


Where did you grow up?

Born in Suva. Grew up around Fiji BUT mainly in Savusavu.


Countries that you have been to doing work and what was that like?

My work as a physiotherapist and in sports has taken me to 6 of the 7 continents. The only place I have not been to is Antarctica.

The greatest joy I get from visiting all these places on earth is experiencing history and modern culture in one place. One can experience a whole life by just traveling.


Mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are today

Yes: Dr. Robin Mitchell, who has mentored me through my sporting journey. William Parkinson who has guided me through my professional journey.


Life-changing experiences and challenges

In  South Africa, I was very fortunate to have met Nelson Mandela. The softest pair of hands I have had the pleasure of shaking. Lessons from this: You are in charge of the health of your body.

My memories of Europe (England, Wales, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, France, Rome) have always been the cold, which I am not very good at adapting to. Romania was special as I was visiting the home of Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who scored the first perfect 10 at Montreal Olympics.

Shaking the hand of the fighter who  float like a butterfly and stung like a bee, Mohammed Ali, at the Sydney Olympics was special. Lesson from this is the strength of a person is when they get up after falling down.

Chatting to Haile Gebresalassie where he shared his story of running everywhere as his training for the Sydney Olympics was a reminder of how we need to keep thingss simple.

Sitting next to Ian Thorpe on the bus at the Sydney Olympic Village and comparing foot size was daunting. Lesson from this is to teach oneself how to handle different and difficult situations.

The experience of making the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarterfinals was s a life changing moment for me, as I realized what Fiji was capable of achieving. My take away from this journey is that if you want something, you have to take charge and lead the way to achieving the outcome.

The 2016 Rio Olympic journey was the greatest challenge and the greatest experience for me professionally and personally. I will forever be thankful for the learnings during this journey.

Sitting in a Police station at a major international sporting event trying to get my athlete out of trouble has defined the type of leader I have become.


Role of women in sports

The role of Women in Sports is a fast growing sector, both on and off the field. We are now seeing more women take part in competitive sports and take up roles as administrators. In Fiji we have lots of examples of Women now taking up National, Regional and World positions. We have Della Shaw Elder from Weightlifting: who is the first female category 1 referee in the Pacific, first female from the Pacific to officiate at a World Championship, only female on the Weightlifting Commonwealth Executive Board.


What gives you a sense of hope?

The acceptance of women in all aspects of sports, as athletes and as administrators.

Sports is fun BUT it can also:

– ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all times;

– be a tool to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls;

– offer productive employment and decent work for professional athletes and for the support administrators, this will reduce poverty in all forms;

– Sports is a human right, it knows no barrier


Future and advice to young women.

What’s next is to ensure that I leave a legacy for the next generation to build on.

To the young women out there: When the door opens infront of you, you alone can decide to step through or not. My advice is to step through and challenge yourself for what is on the other side.


Edited by Osea Bola


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