Players Board Announcement: Sene Naoupu
With the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicking off this week, one person who is sure to leave her mark is Kiwi-born Samoan, now Irish player Sene Nauopu - and we're delighted to announce that Sene is now our first female Players Board member.
Naoupu moved to Galway a number of years ago and has since represented her adopted nation in both Sevens and Fifteens. Cutting an imposing figure in Ireland’s backline, she displays a naturally abrasive style that betrays her Polynesian roots.
Like many New Zealanders with Pacific Island ancestry, Sene is a proud Samoan at heart. As well as representing her adopted nation to the best of her ability, giving back to the Pacific community remains at the forefront of her thinking.
Having recently joined the newly formed Pacific Rugby Players Welfare organisation (PRPW) as its first female Players Board Member, Naoupu hopes to help pave the way for other Pacific Island women to follow in her footsteps. As she has discovered though moving around the world to a country you know little about can be extremely difficult. She plans to use her experience to good effect in helping establish support for those hoping to make the transition overseas.
“PRPW is an important support–base for Pacific Island rugby players and more so their families who move to Europe or the UK, away from their traditional environments” says Naoupu.
“Pacific Islanders are unique in our cultural upbringing, skillsets and outlook on life. It is therefore important that we develop specific welfare services with which our sports people and their families are comfortable with and willing to engage with.”
Naoupu joins a high profile list who make up the PRPW Players Board which includes Premiership players Mako Vunipola, Nathan Hughes, Manu Tuilagi, Kahn Fotualii and Matt To’omua, Pro14 player Charles Piutau, as well as a number of French-based Pacific Island stars.
A not-for-profit organisation which supports over six hundred players of Pacific Island descent in the UK and Europe, PRPW works with players and their families equipping them with the professional support network and social skills they need to overcome the challenges of professional rugby and overseas living.
An astute businesswoman having developed and launched her own group fitness programme SENSHAPER, Naoupu is an inspiration even before she steps onto the rugby field. With all that’s going on in her life though, Naoupu’s priority remains her community and its advancement.
“The aim is to enable these players and their families the confidence to develop relationships with all walks of life, in order to thrive in any environment on and off the field.” she said.
Pacific Rugby Players Welfare co-director Mike Umaga praised Sene’s decision to become an advocate for female players in Europe.
“Having someone of Sene’s experience and drive involved with PRPW is extremely important.” said Umaga. “As an organisation, we aspire to being reflective of our community as a whole.”
“Our Pacific cultures have traditionally elevated women, who are strong leaders in every aspect.” said Umaga. “Sene will help empower the next generation of female Pacific Island rugby players, but more importantly, our next leaders.”
May the luck of the Irish be with you Sene, you have already made us all proud!