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Wong Champions Healthy Living

Wong Champions Healthy Living
Cathy Wong
April 07
11:00 2018

Former Team Fiji chef de mission Cathy Wong is on a mission. Wong an experienced sports administrator recently became the first woman from the Pacific to be appointed to the World Rugby Council.

At the Commonwealth Games, Wong says, her intention is to use the platform to advocate the power of sport and its impact on nation building.

“We have a huge non-communicable disease crisis in the Pacific,” she said.

“The top ten fattest countries in the world are all in the Pacific. In Fiji, 60 per cent of our health budget goes towards diabetes and amputation.”

Wong said the power of sport and its capacity to bring about change in the Pacific was significant.

“We worship our sporting heroes. We look up to champions as mentors,” she said. “Sports bring good value into a person- integrity, discipline, honesty, team work- and we have little kids who look up to these people and they want to copy this behaviour.”

On the sidelines of the Commonwealth Games, teams from across the Pacific have joined forces to create even greater public awareness.

The first swimmer to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal for Papua New Guinea, Ryan Pini, was on hand to muster the athletes who took time out from their training schedules to promote the cause.

As an ambassador for sport in PNG, Pini has taken on the health portfolio, and he believes the message is getting across.

“By bringing our sports stars in, we can educate children about disease and other development matters, and it’s a great catalyst to start a conversation,” Pini said.

“That power of interaction, people want to meet me and I’ve got this important message to deliver,” he said.

“I work with the World Health Organisation to be able to deliver the important messages … really drive them home, and I hope the kids take it home to their communities, tell them ‘hey, we met Ryan Pini’, and then keep the conversation going.”

But as the Pacific athletes mark International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Wong wants the influence to go much further.

“I see sport as a tool that we can use to change choices and change mindset,” she said.

– Edited by  Osea Bola




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