GIVING SPIRIT: The Costigans with Wai Dra Dra's rugby league team in their new jerseys.
GIVING SPIRIT: The Costigans with Wai Dra Dra's rugby league team in their new jerseys. Contributed

Valleys Diehards spread the love to village in Fiji

FOR a small village in Fiji, Wai Dra Dra produces an astounding amount of football talent.

The coastal village has its own rugby league team and has seen players go on to represent the national side, as well as play high-level representative rugby union.

For Gladstone's Costigan family, the village's success is a point of pride.

Paul Costigan's mother was born there, and his family return to visit often.

Here in Gladstone, he and his wife Vikki's three sons, Kane, Diesel and Justis, play for Valleys Diehards Junior Rugby League Club.

For Christmas last year, the family decided to do something different and travel to Wai Dra Dra with a group of friends, celebrating Paul's 40th birthday and ringing in the new year.

Before leaving, they asked Valleys Diehards president Steve Marker and his wife Melissa to see if anyone involved with the club had any surplus gear.

Mrs Costigan told The Observer the Wai Dra Dra team had been playing in borrowed jerseys for years.

"There's is so much talent coming from that village, which is why we wanted to help them out," she said.

"They come from a place where some people just don't have anything... but they will give you the shirts off their back.

"I wasn't expecting anything, but when I went down (to Valleys) to collect it, it turned out they had donated singlets, shirts and a set of jerseys as well."

 

SURPRISE: The players receive their new gear.
SURPRISE: The players receive their new gear. Contributed

Other families involved with the club had donated boots and even two footballs.

The Costigans paid for extra luggage and ended up taking three bags of gear.

Everyone on the Wai Dra Dra team received a Valleys Diehards jersey and boots.

"I think the whole village is running around in Valleys Diehards gear now," Mrs Costigan said.

"They were so thankful for it that they had a thank- you ceremony called a Lovo (a large banquet cooked using an underground oven), to thanks us and everyone that donated.

"They're saving the jerseys for their next game - they took them straight off after the ceremony."

 

SUPERSTARS: The Costigans during a chance meeting with the Fiji Rugby Sevens national side.
SUPERSTARS: The Costigans during a chance meeting with the Fiji Rugby Sevens national side. Contributed

As well as donating the Valleys gear, Paul and Vikki decided to extend the spirit of giving to how their family would celebrate Christmas.

"Instead of our children getting presents - because Christmas is every day here for them, really - we decided the holiday itself was their present," Mrs Costigan said.

"I went and bought about 80 presents from the Reject Shop and individually wrapped them - things like small Lego sets, water guns, balls - then Paul dressed up as Santa Claus and we gave them out.

"The whole experience makes you think about what really matters in life - it humbles you."



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