Programme develops young female leaders

A programme to develop leadership skills among girls in secondary schools has been launched.

“Beyond the Goalpost Star” is a programme carried out by the National Rugby League’s (N.R.L.) Digicel Pacific Outreach programme and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.

Held at Leifiifi College, female students ended their day with a class of zumba led by a group of Year 12 girl students.

The programme is a leadership project for girls in secondary schools, where young women who do not play sports are empowered to mobilize their peers in physical activity.

It’s the first of its kind in the Pacific.

N.R.L. Manager Gabrielle Apelu spoke of how this programme can provide solutions to the barriers young women face.

“Our programme is a leadership programme for young girls in secondary schools and we’re targeting girls who don’t participate in sports and enabling them to mobilize their peers,” she said.

“As you can see behind me, we’ve identified five girls in year 12 and two of their lead teachers, and the goal is by the end of the programme at the end of the year, that they would have mobilized their peers especially young women as to what holds them back from participating in physical activities.

“The Year 12 and the teachers identify their own girls with potential leadership qualities.”

Gabrielle said that they conducted a survey before they started on this initiative and so far, NRL-Digicel Pacific Outreach Programme have been piloting in seven schools together with their partner M.E.S.C.

These schools are;  Vaimauga College, Leififi College, Senese, Papauta College, Maluafou College, Faleata College and Saint Mary’s College.

“M.E.S.C. has put it into the curriculum so it’s a taught subject in the high schools. 

“The thing is, in terms of sports, this a sports for development programme spearheaded by M.E.S.C. especially the Sports Department, now from my experience in high school and secondary school, for example, if Leififi has about 1,500 students and out of that 1,500, half of those are girls.

“Now out of that half, perhaps only 40 actually play sports and that’s the 40 that play every single sport, now that’s all good and fine but because we’re an equal opportunity, what about the rest of the girls, what’s holding them back?

“So we want to make sure that everyone is catered for and that no one gets left behind which is the whole purpose of the ‘Beyond the Goalpost Star;’ we want to encourage young women that they’re exactly the same as their sporting peers and they can be whatever they want to be, come later then in life.

“We don’t set any events for them so they come up with what suits them the best and at what time suits them.

“The girls come up with their own activities so it’s a youth lead programme; they identify what the barriers are and then participating in physical activities and then they come up with solutions.

“If we’re going to use rugby league as an example, the physical nature of the games both appeals and doesn’t appeal to young women so it’s really good that Leififi themselves have come up with zumba which is something that appeals to the mass rather than just a one little activity that only have maybe 40 girls participate.”

Gabrielle has high hopes for this programme.

“Seeing how well it goes for the year, the hope is by next year it’ll be a subject in all of the high schools because at the moment, not all schools have Health Physical Education (H.P.E).

“At the moment it’s just a pilot programme within the 7 schools identified by M.E.S.C. and N.R.L.- Digicel Outreach Programme.”

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