2017 is gearing up to be an exciting year for rugby league.
The school kids in the rural areas of the west coast of Upolu have got a taste for rubgy league in the National Rugby League (N.R.L.) –Digicel Pacific Outreach Programme called “League for Life.”
“League for Life” encapsulates both the physical and mental side of sport. Beginning by building a strong foundation, the children are taught the basics of passing and catching.
Headed by N.R.L.’s Gabrielle Apelu, who is an accomplished sports player and sporting personality in Samoa, Mike Felise, Lepa Faaiuaso, Leia Saofaiga, Tanielu Pasene and Joe Kelemete .
The team have already completed their first four weeks at primary schools in Fasitoo Tai, Fasitoo Uta, Faleasiu, Vailuutai, Leulumoega, Satapuala, Faleatiu, Nofoali, Apolima, Sili, Tafua, Satupaitea and Papa Puleia Primary Schools.
With Rugby League becoming an increasingly popular sporting choice amongst Pacific Islanders, it seems only natural to start at a grass-roots level, not only sparking an interest at a young age to develop the game but also to offer programmes that support education, social and community outcomes.
The National Rugby League has teamed up with Digicel Samoa as their major sponsor.
Since its start, the N.R.L.- Digicel Outreach Programme has already been delivered to over 20,000 children throughout Upolu and Savaii.
Next week, “League for Life will be taken indoors to focus on Literacy and Numeracy, Health and Social Outcome Programs. Indoor sessions such as Health & Wellbeing and Tackle Bullying deliver positive messages on healthy living and good behavior both on and off the field while the Short story writing competitions and Rugby League Read session that follow help with reading and writing.
Ms. Apelu said, “We run a comprehensive programme that focuses on overall wellbeing. We strongly believe that the key to a successful sporting career and, life in general, is to be fit both mentally and physically”, she adds, “the Short Story competitions are great not only for their reading and writing skills but, a lot of the time they write about their experience with us which is always very heartwarming. You can see the positive change in the kids throughout our time with them and that’s what’s really rewarding about the work we do”.
Deepak Khanna, Digicel Samoa’s Chief Customer Officer says “The N.R.L.-Digicel Outreach team in Samoa have done great work within the community. Their ‘education and sport go hand-in-hand’ approach ensures that young players in Samoa will have greater opportunities to develop not only the skills to play the sport but also to learn positive values on health and wellbeing. For this and many other reasons, Digicel is extremely proud to be partnering with the N.R.L Pacific Outreach programme to offer a pathway to success for young children and empower them to chase their dreams”
With the rising popularity of Rugby League, the N.R.L.-Digicel Outreach Programme couldn’t have picked a better time to come to the Pacific. Polynesian players make up 40 per cent of those playing in the N.R.L. and by simply introducing the game to kids at a young age, they can see the variety of sports available to them and how Pacific Islanders are succeeding across various codes.
Ms. Apelu concluded by saying, “2017 is an exciting year for rugby league. We had the N.R.L. nines in Auckland which is a great event for both sporting and entertainment calendars, the N.R.L. season is officially kicking off this weekend and the Rugby League World Cup will run from October to December this year in New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
It’s exciting for the kids to know that League is a big deal in other places and, it’ll be even more inspiring for them when they see Polynesian faces on the field. They really can do anything, it’s just a matter of them knowing it”.
For more information on the N.R.L.-Digicel Outreach Programme, please email: Gapelu@nrl.com.au