Rugby legends promote healthy living

Promoting the right diet is no longer an individual concern. 

Through the quick rip sport, New Zealand rugby legends have taken the initiative to address non-communicable diseases starting from the grassroots level. 

Captain of the New Zealand Women’s team - Black Ferns, Fiao’o Fa’amausili and former All Black, Rodney So’oialo are in Samoa to help promote not only quick rip, but also health.  

The Samoa Observer met the team at the L.D.S. Church College, Pesega. 

“Number one issue is diet, it is this kind of message we have these legends like Fiao’o Fa’amausili and former All Blacks player, Rodney So’oialo, to whom the kids look up to, and hearing it from them is important,” Deputy High Commissioner of New Zealand, Michael Wehi Mailetonga Walsh said.

“I think the most important thing about the programme is that people have fun. I have seen the kids they have fun before it even started.

“Having fun and learning to be healthy, you do not have to be the fastest, the best or the tallest, this is not what this sport is about,” Mr. Walsh said. 

Project Manager for the Pacific Sporting Partnership, Tim Gilkison said the New Zealand Government understands the importance of eliminating non-communicable diseases. 

“The New Zealand government, they understand the importance of the impact diseases have in the countries and the quality of life and health system here,” Mr. Gilkison said. 

“This game is an option to go against that. The easy non-contact game is attractive for boys and girls. We are using sport as the main part of the health education.

“We want to reduce the non-communicable diseases by teaching which food to eat and what to avoid.

“It is outstanding to have a former All Blacks, importantly too for Fiao’o, she is a good example to motivate girls. She is such a great leader and she is passionate about it. We bring the ambassadors to the country; they are from Samoa so the kids can identify themselves with them. 

So’oialo said it is always good to return home. 

“If we can use our positions in a positive way to encourage the kids to help them out, it is a good thing. The programme is a good way not only for boys, but also for girls. Female rugby has really grown. It is a start.”

Fiao’o said: “It has been a massive progress, what I saw. We see the benefit in more the health aspect. It is a lifestyle not just a sport.

“If I have the opportunity to help Samoa, I always come back and this is something I have always been passionate about and giving back to our people. I am here to help.

“I love the energy our people have and I am thankful for the opportunity they gave us, hopefully we get more on board.”

The programme will be held in about 12 secondary schools on Upolu and Savai’i. 

It is made possible with the partnership between the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) and the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.).

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