Sport: First Tongan women's crew to compete at Alo Paopao
A group of six mothers will become the first women's crew from Tonga to compete at an international outrigger canoe competition this week in Samoa.
A women's crew from Tonga will compete at an international outrigger canoe competition for the first time this week at the Alo Paopao Festival in Samoa.
The team of six from the Nuku'alofa Outrigger Canoe Club will race in the 20km marathon and sprint events, and have been training since February.
Rose Fangupo told Vinnie Wylie they wanted try something different and set an example for others.
ROSE FANGUPO: We've never competed internationally before. The club has actually only just started two years ago - we got these old canoes from Vava'u - and then we've just, with the health aspect in Tonga, started getting people into the sport, getting people interested in the sport. We're all mothers, we're all over 30 and we all just thought, 'why not compete in a regatta'". The Samoa Alo Paopao came about and so we decided oh yeah, ''why not", and just started seriously training in February.
VINNIE WYLIE: The formation of the club, why outrigger? Why was that the attraction - did some of the members have a history in the sport or was that just something that you saw and, as you say, the health aspect, you thought that looked like something you'd like to give a go?
RF: There's not a lot of things to do here - as far as on the island. I mean we've got netball and I think just for our age, because we're all mothers, it was just trying to find a time where we can get together recreationally. I think it started out as a recreation sport because it was new and we hadn't done it before.
VW: This Alo Paopao Regatta is the first time that your crew will be competing internationally. Do you have any idea if you're any good or how you might be able to go?
RF: We've had a support crew - there's another team - and the guys that have competed in the South Pacific Games in Wallis and Futuna they've come out and we've been able to race with them and it's pretty tough so we sort of know what we're up against.
VW: What are you hoping to achieve over there - what would be a success for you? Are you just happy to competing in this event or is there a target you have?
RF: I guess for us because it's the first time that Tonga women as a group has actually come from Tonga. There's been teams from Australia [and] New Zealand that have represented Tonga but we actually live here and we're local. I think one of our things is to go there and get the experience, see how a regatta is run and then just bring it back to the islands. Bring it back here and just start locally and I guess what we've done is we've got the awareness out with all our local people here too and all the support from them has been really huge. They're asking how to get on the boat or they're wanting to ask how to paddle so I guess just getting the sport - because we're surrounded by water - what a better way, especially in the islands, just to keep fit, for everybody to keep fit as well and active.
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