Name: Tahina Booth
What is your dream?
I have two dreams which work together hand in hand. My first dream is to win a gold medal for weightlifting at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. My second dream is to grow the Grass Skirt Project (GSP), reducing sexual and domestic violence in Papua New Guinea. I hope to partner with Australian-based sporting organisations and organise donations of pre-loved sports gear.
Tell us a bit about you.
I’m mixed race Papua New Guinean and Australian. I grew up in PNG until I was 8 years old, when my family moved to Brisbane. Growing up in PNG was very different and there was a sense of ‘caged freedom’. Australia was great when it came to being a young girl. My sisters and I would stay out till dark playing with the local kids in the street. I wasn’t much of an academic but could out bowl, run and jump better than the boys my age! Sport has been my saviour my entire life, giving me the self-confidence, strength and resilience to overcome personal issues.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
With weightlifting, I train full-time, compete in national competitions and book into elite training camps when possible; and achieved my Australian weightlifting certificate Level 1 in 2016. With Grass Skirt Project, I have spent a significant amount of my personal spare time building this campaign, collecting donations, equipment and fundraising. Through my contacts and extended networking, I have organised the first shipment of sporting goods (500kg of equipment collected in Australia has been shipped to Port Moresby already) and built a strong relationship with an excellent Papua New Guinean female role model, Dika Toua (commonwealth gold medallist.
What challenges do you face?
With weightlifting, the challenge is securing funding to support training, equipment, travel to competition and physiotherapy costs. With Grass Skirt Project, I’ve never done anything like starting a charity foundation from the ground up! I don’t have access to network connections in major sporting codes, commercial brands, or other philanthropic organisations, and access to these networks could allow GSP to grow significantly.
How will you use the money?
For weightlifting, half of the money will be invested in full Australian certifications plus other associated training costs such as physiotherapy, coaching fees and travel to competitions. With Grass Skirt Project, half will be use to the development of our website and ambassador packs, and creating a clear message of our plans and creating a mobile app where Australian donors will be able to see where their shoes or equipment have gone in Papua New Guinea.
How do you plan to give back?
The GSP is modelled so that anybody that wants to become an ambassador of the program, can be a leader in their community. The GSP model will also offer education to Australian industry professionals to travel to PNG to train and educate Papua New Guinean people in workshops. The GSP will also be working closely with other sporting codes, and help the women with supportive sports bras and speciality training equipment.