A range of sports organisations from across the Oceania region have come together in an ambitious major push to improve the health, well being and leadership skills of people living in the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The Oceania Hockey Federation (OHF) is joining forces with Team Up, which is the Australian Government’s sport for development programme across the Asia-Pacific region. Together the two organisations are launching Hook in4 Health, a programme designed to use sport as a means for development in targeted communities.
Working with the national hockey associations of Vanuatu and PNG, the Hook in4 Health programme will make its primary focus on gender equity and disability inclusion. This mirrors the FIH’s own goals for inclusivity and equality throughout our sport.
With ONG ranking 161 out of 162 on the 2018 Gender Inequality Index (GII) and 68 per cent of women in Vanuatu reporting experience of violence, either physical or sexual, this is an opportune moment to tap into the power of sport to instigate changes in society.
In addition to these two focus areas, the programme will also use hockey as a means to promote diverse and proactive sports leadership and governance. As Clare Prideaux, president of the OHF, says: “Sport for development programmes are much more than just sports programmes, they use sport to have a broader impact on communities and individuals.”
Among the outcomes that the programme is designed to deliver are: removing barriers to participation among women, girls and people with a disability; promoting inclusiveness and opening up opportunities for individual growth and development.
The Hook in4 Health programme will see hockey sessions offered in targeted schools, weekly practices and holiday camps within the community. There will also be activities linked to specific international and national days – such as International Women’s Day or World Health Day. The aim is to use hockey as a vehicle to deliver social and health benefits such as increased physical activity, communication skills, decision-making and teamwork, as well as promoting important values such as gender equity, rights and inclusion.
Weekly learning journals will be used to promote skills such as target setting, personal reflection and self-awareness. There will also be nutritional information, presented in a fun and age-appropriate way.
For such an ambitious project to succeed, buy-in from a range of organisations is essential. The Hook in4 Health programme demonstrates how this can be achieved. Among the organisations that are lending time and expertise are Hockey Australia, who are supplying equipment necessary for inclusive, safe activity; Finders University, who will be monitoring and evaluating the programme; and Family Planning Australia, who will provide sexual and reproductive health training at targeted events. Mentoring support for country-based coaches and trainers will be provided by indigenous Australian women who have graduated from the Cairn’s Hockey Aspire - Live Well, Learn Well, Lead Well programme.
Reflecting on the aims of the programme, Prideaux says: “Hook in4 Health will create new opportunities for women and people with disabilities in coaching, officiating and leadership roles in both PNG and Vanuatu. Ways of working and a culture of safety, equity and inclusion will be promoted by hockey coaches, officials and leaders who will participate in train the trainer sessions that will assist them to better understand safety, healthy relationships, gender equity and inclusive practices which they will then apply to session and policy planning and delivery, supported by Oceania Hockey Federation.”