A new sporting partnership will promote healthy lifestyles and encourage teenagers in the Pacific to take part in sport, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

The Pacific Sporting Partnership – Sports for Health Rugby programme kicked off yesterday at the Pacific Nations Cup test match between Samoa and Fiji.

“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,” Mr Brownlee says.

“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.

“New Zealand is providing $4 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.

“It will 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.

“At the end of the nine-week programme, the teams will take part in a Quick Rip tournament to celebrate their participation,” Mr Brownlee says.

Samoa is the first country where New Zealand Rugby is rolling out the programme, working with their Samoan counterparts. Planning for the rollout of the programme in Fiji, the Cook Islands, and Tonga is under way.

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