Middle-aged women in Fiji take up cricket to cut lifestyle diseases.
The Head of Cricket in Fiji talks to Jenny Meyer about how cricket is improving the health of middle-aged women.
The head of Fiji Cricket says a project encouraging middle aged women to take up the sport is boosting public health.
Inoke Lesuma says the Island Cricket Project has attracted double the number of participants expected in the pilot stage and is set to continue over the next three years.
He told Jenny Meyer it's great to see women running and enjoying cricket as well as learning more about their own health.
INOKE LESUMA: The name of the project is the Island Cricket Project. We started a few weeks back on this. It was launched in the village of Dravo, 40 minutes down from Suva. It is a project that's funded by the Australian government with the Australian Sports Commission. It is a project that involves cricket and the promotion of NCDs. We have, at the moment, about 60 participants.
JENNY MEYER: So is that just a one-off project that's been funded or do you think that that will continue on?
IL: It is a three-year programme. First, there's a pilot programme, then we will continue on this next year after this pilot programme.
JM: And what's the response been from women who may not have played sport for a while?
IL: The response has been overwhelming. Now we've passed the 60 mark. We planned on having 30, but the response and the support is just something that we were not prepared for. But it's been good. It's good to see women playing cricket, running, enjoying themselves, smiling.
JM: And have you got enough equipment to cope? You said you were overwhelmed by the response?
IL: Ah, yes. We do have the equipment to support such good initiatives. We've been in the operation for some time now and there's enough equipment for that. But we always welcome any new equipment since not only women are our target group. We've got whole schools in Fiji, plus we've got also our special programmes that involve the increase in cricket.
JM: And are you seeing much of a response in terms of health benefits? I guess that's the underlying aim there trying to get women participating in sport as a means to improving their health?
IL: Yes, very much. Fijian women, for example those we have in Dravo, we've got results that we take back to them. It is good now that they know a measure of things like sugar levels, cholesterol levels. Some of them haven't had this kind of test before. It is good in terms of them improving their health.
JM: It sounds like it's good for everyone. Are they drawing much of a crowd to their games to watch them play?
IL: Yes. Not only do the women come, but they also bring their kids - the government officers take care of the kids while the women participate in the tournaments. Their kids also do cricket clinics that are supervised by the other development officers. So there is a lot of people that we see there every day.
JM: What age group are you targeting?
IL: We have ages as low as 25 and the eldest is at 57.
JM: So you're getting a pretty good range of people in. And you said that some of those women are having active health monitoring - blood cholesterol, diabetes checks - who's doing that?
IL: We have the ministry of health as one of our partners - they're the ones that conduct those tests. Plus we have other partners that are involved, also.
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