UNICEF International partners, the All Blacks, today took time out before their historic game against Manu Samoa in Apia to meet and play with local Samoan children. Liam Messam, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Seta Tamanivalu and Tom Taylor ran drills based on UNICEF’s sport for development programme, Just Play, and took part in a fruit kebab making session to highlight the importance of healthy eating.
UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director, Vivien Maidaborn, said, “The All Blacks are heroes all over the world, but particularly throughout the Pacific region.
“UNICEF’s partnership with the All Blacks helps to shine a spotlight on the importance of physical activity in all areas of children’s lives. Sport and play are crucial elements for childhood development and furthermore are the right of every child as stated in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“In our work with children we have seen how sport can act as a unifying force to communicate and reinforce important social messages around healthy eating, the importance of physical activity, inclusion and gender equality. But we have also seen how sport can act as a vital coping mechanism for children in conflict or post-emergency situations.”
The All Blacks, All Blacks Sevens, New Zealand Women’s Sevens, Black Ferns, Maori All Blacks and New Zealand Under 20 teams continue to contribute and interact with UNICEF’s work as they play rugby around the world. They are joined on Team UNICEF by international sports partners and ambassadors, including FC Barcelona and Manchester United and sporting champions David Beckham and Serena Williams.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said, “We are delighted that as part of our historic tour to Samoa we can use our international partnership with UNICEF to highlight the right of children to play sport and the importance of healthy eating in the local community.
“Today’s visit with the All Blacks is a great way for us to lend our support to UNICEF and spend time with local children.”
Ms Maidaborn added, “All of our work at UNICEF is focused on ensuring every child, everywhere, can not only survive, but can thrive to reach their greatest potential. Our neighbours throughout the Pacific have had a turbulent time over the last few months and along with New Zealand Rugby we’re pleased to be able to give children in Samoa the chance to play against their heroes on this special day.”