Uili Kolo’ofai believes one healthy school in the North East might have some future Newcastle Falcons in its ranks after putting youngsters through their paces as part of the Something to Chew on initiative.
Kolo’ofai was joined by a host of Falcons stars as well as former England cricketer Graeme Swann as pupils at Emmaville Primary School learned all about Something to Chew on.
The initiative is Aviva Premiership Rugby’s interactive project in association with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club and Public Health England and is aimed at teaching 7-8 year olds about their health and wellbeing.
The key message of the day was combating obesity and the year five pupils took part in sandwich making as well as a tag rugby session.
Kolo’ofai admits having the chance to impart some knowledge is a big part of the job he loves.
"It’s been a really great day and I have had a lot of fun down here with the youngsters," he said.
"Rugby is a really great sport to help kids get fit and tackle obesity because it’s so physical and you need to look after yourself if you are going to play it.
"We played some rugby with them and some of them are already powerful and hit harder than me! I think for sure if they wanted to then there are some future Falcons here.
"When I was younger it was a case of eating whatever you could but today the youngsters are lucky and they can look after themselves a little bit more.
"There is a lot of information about and they have access to healthy foods. But it’s very easy to pick up unhealthy habits and to ignore that knowledge."
Government figures indicate that more than a fifth of 4-5 year olds, one third of children aged 10-11 and two thirds of adults are currently overweight or obese.
Something to Chew on is geared towards tackling the problem and its aims are:
- To improve young people’s understanding of what constitutes healthy eating and a healthy diet, as well as increasing their knowledge of food safety
- Increase young people’s uptake of physical activity
- Raise awareness of the core competences among educational stakeholders
- Work as a contribution towards the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines that all children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least an hour a day
Kolo’ofai, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury, says being absent from the game makes you realise how much you love it.
He hopes that he has passed on that love to the pupils – and they are now in a better position to lead a healthy life.
"This is what it is all about when you are a professional sportsperson," he added.
"You have to make sure that you help the community that you are a part of and use sport as a way to inspire people.
"So if we can show the kids what they can do, if they eat well and look after themselves, then that is crucial.
"So if we can be here showing them a way to get on the right path, then it’s something we need to be doing a lot."
To find out more about Premiership Rugby's healthy eating programme Something to Chew On funded by The Supporters Club, BT Sport's charitable initiative, and Public Health England, go to premiershiprugby.com/SomethingToChewOn