International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset has led the tributes from the Rugby family after Catherine Wong was today presented with a prestigious IOC Women in Sport Award.
The awards recognise and celebrate the efforts made by an individual or an organisation to promote gender equality. Wong, who is the co-ordinator of the Fiji Rugby Union’s (FRU) medical support group, received the award for her tireless dedication to promoting women in sport as a trailblazer in the Rugby medical field in Oceania.
This year, six awards (one global and five regional) were presented for outstanding achievements to encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls at all levels of sport.
Wong was instrumental in setting up a women’s sports committee during her medical studies and later became the first professional female to break through the male-dominated field of Rugby sports administration in Fiji.
Through her work to promote women in sport, Wong has become a role model for many women and girls who want to enter the sports medicine profession. In addition, she was instrumental in ensuring that female physiotherapists are now appointed to accompany national teams.
Fiji’s Ministry of Health has also named her as a ‘Champion for Physical Activity’ and, in her capacity as the co-ordinator of the FRU medical support group, she has been a strong advocate for supporting women in management roles.
Lapasset said: “Catherine Wong is a true champion for Rugby, for athlete welfare and for women in sport. She has become a role model for many women and girls in Fiji who want to enter the sports and medical professions and on behalf of the IRB and the global Rugby family, I would like to congratulate her on a thoroughly deserved and prestigious award.”
“Her knowledge and dedication is invaluable at a time when women's Rugby is going from strength to strength, with Olympic inclusion boosting interest and participation around the globe.”
Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) Chairman Harry Schuster added: “Sports science and sports medicine is a field where the Pacific Islands face many challenges – primarily around the access to resources and expertise – and so we are incredibly grateful for the work of Cathy who has taken a lead role in pioneering the development of regionally-specific strategies to ensure the provision of world-class solutions for our players. On behalf of FORU I would like to congratulate Cathy on her award.”
There are now more than one million women playing Rugby at all levels globally and this announcement caps a stellar week for the Game with the world’s top 16 women’s Rugby Sevens nations competing at a captivating Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow. The two-day event featured Catherine Wong’s beloved Fiji for the first time along with fellow debutants Tunisia and Ireland.
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