The inception of 2018 saw local Harlequin U10 Gareth travel to Fiji with Maciu Vosa and his family to help Maciu to get home to his village and visit his family.
Gareth and his family were welcomed by the local community with a traditional lovo and kava ceremony followed by a game of touch rugby with the village children.
On returning home to Australia, Gareth approached the headmaster of his school to see if he could put a collection box in the gym to get donations of pre-loved boots for his friends back in Fiji.
This suggestion was embraced by Casey Grammar, Cranbourne and over 150 pairs of boots were gathered in a couple of weeks. Far exceeding the expectations of Gareth and his family.
Behind the scenes Maciu was keeping the village in the loop.
The Fiji Rugby Union reached out to Gareth to see if his FijiBoots initiative could assist their U16s team who were about to participate in the 2018 National U16 Championships on the Gold Coast.
26 sets of boots were organised and packed ready for the trip to Queensland.
The Melbourne Rebels U16s leadership group presented the boots to the Fijian U16s at the commencement of the tournament. This initiated friendships that continued throughout the tournament, with the Rebels boys cheering on the Fiji boys and vice versa.
On the final night of the tournament the Fijian squad sang traditional songs for the Victorian boys and both sides exchanged training tops.
Melbourne Rebel Pone Fa’amausili was kind enough to come to Gareth’s school and accept the boots on behalf of Maciu Vosa’s village from the students of Casey Grammar.
The boots are currently being scrubbed clean and organised into their sizes, boxed and ready to ship to Fiji.
Congratulations to Gareth and his family for leading such a fantastic initiative that will leave a lasting positive impact on the Fijian community.
Gareth and his family would like to thank everyone for their support of this initiative.