Guru's journey from Afghanistan front line to Rocky rugby
RUGBY UNION: Benj Focas has travelled around the globe and worked with some of rugby union's leading teams.
Now, he's settling down in "sunny Central Queensland" with a plan to bring the sport back with a vengeance.
The New Zealand-born import was announced as CQ's new Development Officer for Rugby Union this month and is already setting his sights on some big feats in the region's rugby world.
Focas will be overseeing the inner workings of the sport in the Central Highlands, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg to name a few.
"So my role is getting increased participation and portray a positive image of rugby union throughout Central Queensland," Focas said.
"An area of interest for me personally is the women's game.
"Trevor [Robertston] has a lot of involvement with women's rugby and he's been effectively running it and doing a great job," Focas said of the Rockhampton Women's Rugby Union coach.
"I had a meeting with Trevor and we're going to be working together to be getting those female numbers up.
"I watched the game down on the Capricorn Coast the other day and the standard looks really good, but yet again I'm just new to the region so I'm just learning on the job."
Focas played for Marist St Pats in the Wellington club premier competition, before heading to Europe where he has been working for the past 12 years.
"I was in Ireland where I played for five years and worked as a development officer for Leinster while playing in the All Ireland League division one and two," he said.
"After a stint playing rugby, I joined the British Army where I was actively coaching in the British Army Germany competition. In between deployments to places like the front line of Afghanistan.
"Upon leaving the army I did some work with developing Asian nations.
"I coached the Uzbekistan national men's team during their 2019 World Cup qualifying campaign."
Throughout his extensive, global involvement in sport, Focas learnt the importance of community participation.
"I'll be doing that by planning, developing, promoting and delivering programs to increase the overall participation," Focas said.
"I suppose another aspect of that is developing strong relationships between stake holders like clubs, schools, referees and committees and just making sure there's cooperation between stakeholders.
"I'll be pretty active in rugby education as well and will be delivering courses and getting involved in school rugby, seniors, women's, men's and club rugby.
"I'm kind of the face for the community for rugby CQ, and my main goal is just to get into schools and get programs up and running and get kids going to their local clubs."
Focas has assessed the talent in the region's teams and is pleased with what he sees.
"I think we were just lacking in the 15 to 17 age group and we need to pick this up for the season in club rugby," he said.
"But the talent, I was really impressed... there's a really good standard.
"I will get around to more games and hopefully pick up the women's and get more women involved in the whole community and that's obviously going to start with the schools."