There are no reliable statistics about female participation in Fijian sport, yet it is well known by locals (though not widely understood) that engagement in sportive activities is rare among Indo-Fijian girls and women. This paper is the first attempt to explore how and why that is so. That said, there is an important caveat: we are not insisting that sportive activities are an inherent good. Indeed, for some cultural groups, Western-invented competitive sport may be of no interest; similarly, tangential forms of human movement, such as recreational pursuits like cycling or gym sessions, may be just as uninspiring. In that sense, the main thrust of our inquiry is the sportive experiences of Indo-Fijian female athletes, yet we have also sought feedback from those charged with the responsibility of managing sportive programmes. These combined perspectives are intended to provide a preliminary entree into the much larger – hitherto unexplored – question of what attitudes, opportunities and constraints are associated with sportive activities for Indo-Fijian girls and women.
The paper adopts a critical race feminism framework: the goal was to accentuate females of colour (in this case Indo-Fijian women) by hearing their voices and, with their permission, reporting what they had to say. The paper nonetheless provides an adaptation to critical race feminism theory: it also engaged with individuals – whether women or men – charged with the responsibility of managing sportive activities. In that sense, we were interested in individual agency and experience on the part of athletic Indo-Fijian women, but also wanted to understand how (or if) local sport administrators understood ethnic diversity among female athletes, including – in our case – the involvement (or otherwise) of Indo-Fijian females.