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Women in Vanuatu experience health benefits of cricket

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Helen Thompson
WVoN co-editor

Women in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu are playing cricket for its health benefits.

The 15-week programme, funded through Aus Aid and a collaboration of Pacific Sports Partnership agreement with Cricket Australia and the Australian government, is being piloted in Vanuatu to tackle endemic Pacific health problems such as obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Thirty women from Ifira between the ages of 25 and 50 participated in Fafine Tenuku, Island Cricket Project, which teaches the women traditional Pacific cricket played in island dress.

As well as cricket practice, the programme teaches women about the importance of nutrition, maternal health, non-communicable diseases and leadership.

The results have been positive  according to International Cricket Council’s East Asia Pacific Regional Project Officer, Adam Cassidy.

He said: “A lot of women lost weight and lowered their blood pressure over the 15 week period.

“Feedback from families, in their houses, their husbands and their kids, their food and their diet habits had changed – they’re seeing food in their houses that they have never heard of before.”

Cassidy added: “their cricket skills were outstanding.”

Leisavei Kalsal one of the participants in the programme said: “In my full life I never really played sport then I chose to join this island cricket program because it also taught me to improve my health by exercising.

‘”I now feel a lot fitter.”

To promote the programme the Fafine Tenuku team played the opening game at the 2012 Pepsi ICC East Asia-Paciific Women’s Championships in Port Vila in May.

Cassidy hopes that the project will spread to other villages leading to a possible league for competitive play.

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