SPORTS

Women In Sports: Standing Firm In A Man’s World

“As a woman, I feel they have authority over you even though you are in that position to make that decision and sometimes it becomes overwhelming.”
15 Feb 2020 13:12
Women In Sports: Standing Firm In A Man’s World

Kristine Lilidamu Taufaga always had the urge in helping people achieve what they wanted.

This is why she chose a career in physiotherapy and is now a fulltime employee of the Fiji Rugby Union.

She has been on tour with Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team, Fijian Drua, Fijian Warriors, Under-20 and U18s.

The Narikoso, Ono, Kadavu native found her forte when she took part in a school athletics competition at 17.

The now 27-year-old was inspired by prominent local physiotherapists Cathy Wong and Kitiana Chute.

“In primary school, I had an interest in medicine and wanted to become a doctor and that didn’t work out,” Taufaga said.

“My interest in physiotherapy started when I was in Year 12 and it grew from there.

“I had seen physiotherapists on television and being inspired by Cathy, Kitiana and other women that have established private practice.”

Kristine Taufaga with husband Jone Manu (left) and sons Jeremiah (front) and Jone Jnr

Kristine Taufaga with husband Jone Manu (left) and sons Jeremiah (front) and Jone Jnr

Motivation

She attributed her success so far to the guidance of her mother, Litiana.

“When I started it was not easy,” she added.

“I entered the College of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences at the Fiji National University in 2012 and being a woman physio in a male-dominated sport was really challenging.

“It was my mum who had always motivated me because as a single mother she worked as a tour consultant to take care of me and my siblings.

“My dad was a big part of my career and my life but I spent most of my time with my mother.”

Taufaga said often she felt almost lost in a male-dominated environment.

“You have to stand your ground and make the decision on players to be available for training,” she said.

“We are always being overpowered by them and the coaches and sometimes demand to have players in training when they are not able to.

“As a woman, I feel they have authority over you even though you are in that position to make that decision and sometimes it becomes overwhelming.”

Taufaga added as a mother of two, she found it hard sometimes to juggle work and her role as a mother.

“Sometimes I would have to manage my children at home and being available for work,” she said.

“We work throughout the night for camping so I have to go home, then come back to work.”

There were moments in her career that was rewarding despite the challenges.

“It was really interesting and rewarding,” Taufaga said.

“Throughout the rehabilitation programme, you see the athletes that you train achieve their goals and return to rugby in a short period of time.

“We conduct exercises and research work for the best exercises to promote their healing and strength.

“It’s all about rehabilitation and working with elite athletes that require full assistance to return to sports.”

Kristine Taufaga (second from left) with members of the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team

Kristine Taufaga (second from left) with members of the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team

She said being part of the national teams has been an opportunity of a lifetime and she would not trade it for anything else.

“It comes down to passion, coming into the field with sports environment, you take a lot of challenges and time constraints and a lot of involvement on the field,” Taufaga said.

“If you don’t have the passion you won’t last.

“So I encourage a lot of women to read about it and being physiotherapy in this particular sport.”

When it comes down to having a career and a fulltime job, Taufaga said women will need to study and work hard to achieve their goals.

“That was what pushed me in completing my studies, taking care of my family and settling down,” she added.

“That is why I am encouraging other women who wish to pursue their dream job to study hard and they will achieve what they wanted.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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