From Rugby Heaven (13 March 2009)
Driven Tavo makes tracks to training
by Greg Growden
SOME precious professional footballers complain if training goes a minute over schedule, or if forced to endure an autograph-signing session, or if their business-class flight meal is lukewarm.
Compare that to the extraordinary lengths Rebecca Tavo, one of the stars of the Australian women's sevens team that won the World Cup in Dubai last weekend, goes to just to play rugby.
Every second week, Rebecca spends a full day travelling from Port Hedland to Brisbane, via Perth, to ensure she can train, play and remain part of Australian rugby's glamour team. And then another full day getting back to Port Hedland to pay the bills as a train driver for BHP Billiton, where she is on the midnight to dawn shift, transporting iron ore between various outposts.
Three years ago, Rebecca became BHP Billiton's first female train driver, and currently controls locomotives along 400 kilometres of rail line through the West Australian outback between Port Hedland and Newman. It gives her plenty of time to think but not much opportunity to train.
"There's absolutely nothing out here," Tavo said from her camp near Port Hedland yesterday. "There's not even grass to train on. I'm running around with the snakes, the cows and the kangaroos. That's why, when I'm off, I fly back to Brisbane, even if it takes me a whole day to get there. I do it because I want to join the teams, and just want to keep playing at that level."
With a shift that involves two weeks on and two weeks off, Tavo wastes no time heading to civilisation and preparing for the latest international tournament, the next being the celebrated Sevens tournament in Hong Kong later this month.
"I didn't always want to be a train driver but my family are from Port Hedland and they are involved in rail," Tavo said. "So I sort of drifted into it. I was playing touch football in Brisbane a few years ago, and got injured and went back to Port Hedland to earn some money. That led to me driving the big long trains, which are two or three kilometres long."
After the triumph in Dubai, where Australia won the final over New Zealand in sudden-death extra-time, Tavo had little time to celebrate because almost as soon as the team returned to Sydney on Monday she was on her way to Port Hedland.
"The impact of winning the World Cup is still hitting me," Tavo said. "My family said that I had to frame my jersey. And that brought home the point that this must mean a lot not just to me, but to all my family and everyone who loves rugby."
And with it a completely different lifestyle from that to which she is accustomed.
"Dubai was different," she said. "You're in a desert and all of a sudden you are surrounded by all these flash buildings everywhere. Where we were staying was six-star accommodation."
And there weren't any snakes, cows or kangaroos.
Note: Rebecca is the daughter of Lagsefuri
and Carol Tavo in Australia. Lance (nickname for Langsefuri) is the
grandson of Gagaj Garagsau Albert, and the son of Gagaj Fiu Satiak
Tavo and Susau Albert.
From The West Australian (29 March 2009)
Ironwoman of the Pilbara dreams of new rugby glory
It would be enough
of a feat that, at the age of just 26, Rebecca Tavo is one of only three
women to drive iron ore trains for BHP Billiton in the Pilbara and the
first to be trained by the company.