An NRL delegation including Cronulla Sharks player Fa'amanu Brown visited Apia in Samoa as part of the game's Wellness Program and to hold the first ever female participation workshop in partnership with the Samoan Rugby League and members of the Samoan Women's Sports Commission.
The visit was part of the NRL Pacific Outreach Program which was launched last year to promote game development, player welfare and support education, social and community outcomes.
Over 2,500 students from the Vai Vase, Falefitu and Apia primary schools took part in the program. At each session the children watched the 'Healthy You' video before the children participated in some fun exercises with the star of the day Fa'amanu Brown.
The Sharks utility captivated the kids with his ability to chat with them in Samoan, talking about the importance of healthy diet and drinking lots of water. Brown then completed what he believed were close to 5,000 push ups, sit ups and star jumps at each school in competition with students who were looking to test their fitness against the NRL star.
Driven through the relationships formed by NRL Game Development Manager Brandon Costin, the NRL teamed up with Chair of the Women's Sport Commission Nynette Sass and Pacific leadership Group Manager Sina Retzlaff to organise the first ever female participation workshop in Samoa.
Close to 40 community representatives including UN officials and members of the Ministry for Women attended, which was aimed at breaking down the barriers, including societal issues, to female participation in rugby league.
The forum was opened by Samoan High Commissioner Sue Langford who made positive contributions to the workshops coordinated throughout the day.
Gabriel Apelu, a member of the Samoan Touch football team who recently travelled to Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid-North Coast for the Touch World Cup, shared her experiences with the participants and provided a strong message on how her family’s mindset had allowed her to achieve all that she has in sport to date.
Female participation is crucial to social change in Samoa and this workshop run through the NRL is a small step in creating awareness and creating discussion that will engage all areas of the community, the NRL's model to compliment this process will see young girls afforded the opportunity to participate in school and community based participation programs both as players and officials.
This article first appeared on NRL.com