La Trobe University and the NRL will increase their commitment to delivering and evaluating sport for development programs for children in schools across the Pacific.
Both organisations will work together on a new expanded research partnership looking at the impact the NRL development programs are having on students in Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.
These sport for development programs are delivered with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and aimed at better engaging students with education through sport and encouraging gender equality for women and girls through engagement with Rugby League. Local NRL staff deliver sessions in schools that are designed to engage curriculum based outcomes with Rugby League resources.
La Trobe's Associate Professor of Sport Management Dr Emma Sherry has just returned from Samoa where she evaluated the latest rollout of the program there.
"What's fantastic to see is how sport and mentoring in Samoan schools is seeing kids engage with their learning and education and through this improve their confidence and positivity," Dr Sherry said.
"This program is empowering young people by providing them with opportunities to learn about the sport of rugby league, but also health and wellbeing initiatives through classroom based activities."
NRL Program Director Michael Asensio said the partnership announcement was a great acknowledgement of the ongoing success of the program and building on it for the future.
"What we'd like to see is the development programs rolled out throughout the Pacific," Mr Asensio said.
"This research commitment will affirm the many positive changes that are happening because of it and how we can achieve that."