Maori Party salutes Maori Women’s Rugby Sevens
Maori Party salutes Maori Women’s Rugby Sevens team at
Te Ururoa Flavell, Sports spokesperson 17 May 2008
“You go, girls” said Te Ururoa Flavell, as the undisputed World No 1 women’s rugby sevens team prepares to take the field in Amsterdam this evening for the Heineken International tournament.
“The Aotearoa Maori Women’s team has won every tournament they have entered over the eight years since they formed,” said Mr Flavell. “They have won the Hong Kong International Sevens six years in a row. And if our support makes any difference, they will win again against the twenty or so other top teams in Amsterdam this weekend.
“To cap it off, they’ve been invited to play at Twickenham the following weekend in a test against the world number two team, England. This will be on the finals day of the London Sevens tournament – a huge honour for Aotearoa.
“What is incredible is that this world-beating team, with an almost perfect record at international level, is still largely self-funded. They get to these tournaments by raising their own funds, with donations and sponsorships from NZ Community Trust and First Sovereign Trust.
“They remind me of the good old days of amateur rugby, where the personal sacrifice of all the players seemed to make our teams play harder and never give up. They played for pride and glory, because there was no contract or performance bonuses.
“The down side is that, as the Aotearoa Maori Women’s Sevens team takes to the field to defend their title, they carry on their shoulders a debt of $15 – 20,000, which they will have to clear when they get back,” he said.
“For four years the Maori Party has called for government support for this kaupapa, to no avail. It seems there is not enough interest in Maori women’s success.
“This team has more than equaled the achievements of the Men’s Sevens teams over the years. They have represented our nation with distinction on the rugby fields of the world.
“They have also provided inspirational role models for all aspiring sportswomen, and especially for young Maori, with their consistent performance at the elite level.
“So wouldn’t it be a fantastic welcome home if the Rugby Union or SPARC, or even private funding, was able to clear that debt for them, and set them up for the next tournament.
“Let’s put our
hands together for the team while they play their hearts out
– and see if the funding bodies rise to the challenge as
well as the Aotearoa Maori Women’s Sevens team has done
over the years,” said Mr