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The New Zealand and Samoa Rugby Unions have joined together to launch a health initiative in the islands.
The Pacific Sporting Partnership, Sports for Health Rugby programme, kicked off on Saturday at the Pacific Nations Cup test match between Samoa and Fiji.
New Zealand's foreign minister Gerry Brownlee said the partnership would promote healthy lifestyles and encourage teenagers in the Pacific to take part in sport.
"New Zealand and the Pacific Islands share a proud sporting tradition and it is great to use this to help promote healthy lifestyles in the Pacific," Brownlee said.
"The Sports for Health programme is about ensuring children learn about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle from a young age, while also gaining skills like team work and fair play," he said.
New Zealand is providing NZ$4 million (US$2.9 million) over five years for the rugby component, which will be delivered in partnership with New Zealand Rugby.
In Samoa, the initiative will be delivered through villages and schools.
Brownlee said it would introduce children in the Pacific to a fast, non-contact version of rugby known as 'Quick Rip', which is already popular in New Zealand.
It requires no conversions, meaning there's no need for goal posts or formal playing fields.
A healthy lifestyles awareness campaign will run alongside regular coaching sessions and games for 14 to 18-year-old boys and girls.
Samoa is the first country to run the programme with planned rollouts in Fiji, the Cook Islands and Tonga.
Former Samoan-born All Black Rodney So'oialo was in Apia over the weekend to help launch the programme.
"It's just to basically get the understanding of getting out there and healthier living for our children and hopefully try and grow some relationship in between. The main thing is about their health for us and this initiative is very important to try and stimulate that knowledge in that area.".
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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