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 Ovalau Outrigger Canoe Programme

I remember like it was yesterday when I was approached by the head of the Levuka Police Department to meet with Shirley and Glen Emberson. A well known and highly respected couple whose ties to Levuka run historically deep.

The officer suggested I meet up with Glen and Shirley to discuss the formation of what would become the Ovalau Outrigger Canoe and Sailing Association  (OOCSA).

At that time mid 2020, Fiji was knee deep in the first wave of the Covid pandemic. Like so many great ideas that included manpower and community, it had to be put on hold until the issues lightened up.  

But that didn’t stop us from speaking on the phone and beginning the planning process. Glen eloquently pitched the concept to me and the varied reasons why bringing the age old art of canoeing back to Levuka would be so beneficial to their community.  

At the time, I had little knowledge of the history of Drua travel around the Pacific Islands. I got quite a lesson from Glen and a great breath of knowledge regarding how the re-introduction of this sport would positively impact the lives of the youth in and around Levuka. My focus is always empowering the struggling communities of Fiji. I quickly realized how learning this sport and the care involved with becoming a part of it creates a sense of community and purpose amongst those who feel disenfranchised.

I partnered with PAFCO for the purchase of a V12 canoe and made a call to my old friend Rob Miller who manages Kaibu Resort. Without a moment of thought, Rob generously donated the use of his barge to bring the canoe to Levuka from Suva Point.

Since the inception of OOCSA, several clubs have been established as well as competitions with other teams from neighboring islands. I am very proud to be the Patron of this Association as it adds breadth to our charity work, and creating positive social changes through the addition of offering a new sport to the youth of Levuka. 

We have seen first hand how this group sport has brought community and purpose to the lives of Fijian youth.