30 March 2021

Wellington Rugby League have partnered with Healthy Families Hutt Valley to change lives through the game of rugby league, with their new smokefree sport initiative kicking off this April.

The initiative powered by Wellington Rugby League aims to drive home the message that by creating supportive physical and social environments which are smokefree and vapefree, we can affect change and be positive role models for our tamariki and rangatahi.

Creating spaces which are smokefree, support people who are smoking to quit and help them to remain smokefree. By targeting environments where people gather and play sport, there is an opportunity to enable people to begin their journey to quit, support them to lead smokefree lives and improve the health and wellbeing of not only players, but the whole whānau and wider community.

Wellington Rugby League CEO, Andre Whittaker says “Everyone, including our sporting community has a role to play in laying the foundations for a healthier future. This region wide smokefree rugby league initiative highlights the powerful leadership that can be driven through sport to promote healthy change.”

“We are whole-heartedly committed to this kaupapa to ensure local communities involved in rugby league are supported to be as healthy as they can be.”

The smokefree sport initiative is part of a wider approach to wellbeing within the sport. At a national level, the initiative supports New Zealand Rugby League’s organisational ethos – The Kiwi Way which encapsulates the sport’s strategic direction while representing holistic elements that are essential to the growth of the people, communities and the code.

“We will be helping people who are ready to begin their journey to quit smoking, with the support of Takiri Mai Te Ata Regional Stop Smoking Service. This support to quit, alongside positive messaging within our clubs will reinforce that rugby league is more than just a game, it is about being well now and in the future” says Andre.

Local clubs will be provided with supportive messaging which can then be passed on to players and whānau encouraging them to put their health, and the health of their whānau first. Through the regional smoking cessation service Takiri Mai Te Ata, club managers, coaches and volunteers will be provided with information on the quit smoking pathway.

The rugby league season is set to kick off across Wellington on Saturday 10 April with the junior and senior grade competition, as well as a celebration of wahine in sport.

Also coming up on the Wellington Rugby League calendar is a celebration of emergency services and a round recognising World Smokefree Day on 31 May.

For all the information on up-coming games follow the Wellington Rugby League Facebook page.