Rugby trailblazer recognised this International Women’s Day

Yesterday marked International Women’s Day, which is a chance to celebrate the thousands of females involved in our game across the Oceania region.

Despite the limitations of the past 12 months, there have still been countless milestones for women in rugby to be celebrated, and we #ChoosetoChallenge everyone to celebrate Cathy Wong’s achievements.

The Oceania Rugby Board Member was awarded the Fiji Commemorative 50th Year of Independence Award in the back end of 2020. The award recognised Wong as a trailblazer for not only women in rugby but women in all aspects of the sporting industry and is cause for celebration of an impressive career both on and off the field.

It was almost three decades ago that Wong started working as a physiotherapist for Fiji Rugby Union, and during this time she has attended two Rugby World Cups with the Flying Fijians. If that wasn’t enough Wong went on to be a medical officer and consultant with many other sports in Fiji through her work with Fiji Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) attending a number of Pacific Games and Pacific Mini Games over the years.

Wong’s vision for the game led to her being appointed as the first Women’s Director for Oceania Rugby in 2016, Fiji’s Chief de Mission during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the first Pasifika woman appointed to the World Rugby Council in 2018.

“When I first joined Fiji Rugby 28 years ago, I had no idea it could lead to working across so many different fields. I am now passionate about helping other women rise up and ensuring they’re granted the same opportunities as males,” said Wong.

Through her ever-practical way, Wong has helped educate countless women about the opportunities rugby and sport can offer both professionally and personally.

Jennifer Khalik understands the path that Wong has walked all too well. Khalik, a senior Physiotherapist at Fiji Rugby Union was also the first Pasifika female appointed as a World Rugby Medical Course Director in 2019 and notes Wong as one of her inspirations to work in Rugby.

“Her work and achievements have not only inspired but have empowered me to step out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizon and strive to be better,” Khalik said.

“Cathy is a wonderful person and a great leader who is setting an amazing example and leading the way so that women such as myself can follow. I am fortunate to have someone of her capacity guiding and encouraging me as a role model, mentor and friend,” added Khalik.

Wong has dedicated her latest award to all the volunteers who continue to help grow the game and those who nominated her.

This latest accolade will join a large collection of past awards (listed below):

2001: IOC Volunteer Award
2006 & 2010: FASANOC Distinguished Service to Sports
2008: FRU Excellence Service Award
2011: IOC Fiji Olympic Order – 2011
2013: IOC Women and Sport Trophy for Oceania – 2013
2013: Officer of Fiji Medal – 2013
2017: National Achievement Award for Women in Business
2020: Fiji Commemorative 50th Year of Independence Award

The work in the Oceania Rugby board room adds to the many other sporting and medical organisations Wong is a part of, including:

– Suva Private Hospital Clinical Governance Committee
– Oceania National Olympic Committee Medical Commission
– Fiji National Sports Commission Board Member
– FASANOC Vice President
– Fiji Women’s Fund Steering Committee
– World Rugby Council, including World Rugby Regionally Committee and World Rugby Governance Review Committee