News Pacific Rugby League Sport

NRL Pasifika Ambassadors Workshop


By Shane Saroya – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby

A media source from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, reported that current and former players from Australian National Rugby League (NRL) visited New Caledonia last week to learn more about development challenges and general life in the Pacific Islands region. 

The NRL, SPC, the Australian National University and the Australian Government joined forces to stage a Pacific leadership workshop for NRL Pasifika Ambassadors.

The workshop is hoped to enable them to assist in development projects in Australia, and throughout the Pacific region.

During the workshop it was highlighted, that around 44 per cent of NRL players have Pacific Islands’ heritage.

While the Pacific is well known for its rugby talent and idyllic beaches, many other NRL players and Australian sports fans know little about the region’s diversity, rich cultures and traditions, and some of the significant challenges facing Pacific Islanders.

SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said the Pacific Community welcomed partnering with the NRL and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to promote rugby league as a tool for development, including income opportunities for young people.

The training is being led by Dr Roannie Ng Shiu, a Pacific Studies Outreach and Research Fellow with the ANU’s Society and Governance in Melanesia program, and the Deputy Director of SPC’s Social Development Division, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, alongside scientific and technical specialists from SPC.

Speaking at SPC headquarters in Noumea, Dean Widders said, Some of the key messages that have come through in the discussions are around the whole area of cultural diversity and the importance of knowing one’s culture; the need to be connected to one’s values as the way to ensure responsive development intervention.

According to Ms Toelupe Tago-Elisara, the NRL group welcomed the opportunity to learn about SPC’s social development and public health work. As they strive to lead and advocate for social change within their own environments as NRL players and Pasifika Ambassadors, the players and officials now have a better appreciation of the social issues and challenges we face with our Pacific Community members.

The 22 Pacific Islands and their ocean areas otherwise known as,Exclusive Economic Zones span some 30 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, an area the size of Africa.

Pacific Island people have a history of resilience based on their traditions of sustainable use of s, but they are also exceptionally vulnerable to climate change and disasters, and to the social and economic challenges that come with living on small islands in remote locations.

 The three-day NRL Leadership and Development in the Pacific Workshop ended on Friday.


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