Kicking goals for Kiribati
Marebu Flood boasts a distinguished sporting career, having played competitive volleyball, beach volleyball and table tennis for Kiribati, as well as captaining the Kiribati national volleyball team at the 2015 Oceania Volleyball tournament in Fiji. She has also held leadership roles with Girl Guides, served as Secretary of Kiribati's National Volleyball Federation and Treasurer of Kiribati Women in Sports. In a voluntary role with the Kiribati National Olympic committee, Marebu teaches on the importance of positive thinking, healthy lifestyle, gender equality and respect for the Oceania Sports Education Program.
Combining her expertise in sports and teaching, with skills learnt on-award in Australia, she hopes to address cultural restrictions that prevent married women from participating in recreational activities, promote healthy living and exercise amongst women, and advocate for women in Kiribati to have equal opportunities to compete in sports at international levels.
We asked Marebu about her experiences of the Women's Leadership Initiative so far and how it will lead to her accomplishing these dreams.
1. What did you expect from the Women's Leadership Initiative's Leadership and Mentoring program?
Before coming to Canberra, I was expecting that WLI would provide me with adequate leadership skills and knowledge and provide me with my mentor, who will be resourceful to assist me in my project
2. Did you already see yourself as a leader when you applied for the program?
Yes, though I'm not that experienced, I have always seen myself as a leader and will always grab chances and opportunities where I can improve my leadership skills.
3. What were some of your highlights of the WLI Canberra intensive?
The activities that were delivered during the trainings were awesome. The highlight was the opportunity to walk in the wilderness and to reflect on my past experiences and focus on what I would love to achieve in future. Retrieving my past was shocking. I was determined to point out my weaknesses that I never thought of before that time. After all the activities we did, I was able to eliminate all the values that I think not consider appropriate for me. This activity was uplifting and powerful enough to pull me out from my old self. It's like I'm being reborn again. I love the new version of ME.
Another highlight was hearing our fellow women's stories, who I looked at as my idols. How they overcome the fears and challenges in their lives when making their way up the ladder and to become who they are today. Their stories were very inspiring and I would say that they are challenging us. If they can achieve their goals successfully, why can't WE? Something to think about.
4. What have you now discovered about yourself and what did you learn about yourself through the WLI intensive?
I have learned and discovered that there are times that I took advantage of my leadership responsibilities in eliminating people that I don't like even though I know that my organisation needs them. It is funny and embarrassing but I am grateful to this program - I have realised it is not too late for me to adjust myself and to set boundaries for my personal problems.
5. Having gone through one intensive and one month on the program, what have you learnt about leadership so far?
I learnt that leadership is not a career, but it is a choice that you will honestly accept and value wholeheartedly.
6. How was it meeting your mentor, and what do you expect you will gain from her in the next 18 months?
Before meeting my mentor, Olympic Gold Medalist Lara Davenport, I did have high expectations that she would be the right person for me and my project in a way that she would be able to understand what I really want to do. I was relieved to know that we have a lot in common and are both passionate about sports. I know that she will assist me with my project and to be able to contribute more from her own experiences to make my project a successful one.
7. How will the WLI program benefit you, as an Australia Awards scholar and in your leadership journey?
This program will be a guide and my pillar to strengthen my leadership skills. It will help me in developing my leadership exposure, to broaden my vision and expand my networks, which will benefit my future career and the development of my country, Kiribati.