The highly successful Pacific Outreach Program is influencing the lives of children across PNG, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga through the teaching of respect, inclusion and importance of education and health.
On Saturday, Samoa will play Fiji in a historic Test match in Apia, with both squads full of NRL stars. But there is so much more that the NRL is doing off the field to help local communities in the Pacific region.
Polynesian players make up 40 per cent of those playing in the NRL and approximately 43 per cent of players in the NYC.
The NRL will continue with work with the Samoan and Australian Governments to deliver our game development and community programs which will assist the health and education of young people.
The NRL's Pacific Outreach Program will see a targeted approach to assisting in the development of our Pacific rugby league nations whilst recognising the influence on Rugby League of our Australian based Pacific community.
Our new Pacific Strategy targets the four key nations of PNG, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and aims to deliver a heightened level of investment and engagement across:
• Game development
• Player welfare
• Commercial and corporate opportunities
• Education, social and community outcomes
• Political /diplomatic ties for sports diplomacy
• Strengthening of Rugby League body in each nation to build the International game
• Commitment from the NRL to link NRL stars to Pacific programming and outcomes
The NRL began operations in Samoa at the end of 2014 and now have six NRL Samoa staff covering the capital Apia and the island of Savai'i (most sports are on the main island only).
Since being in Samoa, the local Samoan NRL team have undertaken visits to more than 60 schools, delivered the 'League for Life' program - highlighting wellbeing, health and tackling bullying to more than 55,000 children and trained over 120 teachers.
The team has also held community events, holiday programs and community outreach programs, with coaching and refereeing courses to come.
• The NRL Samoa inclusive program held at Loto Taumafai was the first sporting program ever conducted at the special needs school.
• The Inaugural Open Girls Tournament (the first ever held) was conducted at the end of last school term by NRL Samoa staff. Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Sue Langford, attended the historical event and stated: "The tournament provided young women with not only a level playing field, but also a sense of self-worth and fair play".
• The two women's teams (St Mary's Tigers and Papauta Girls College) will play the opening game before the Test match on Saturday, October 8.