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Blues Rugby put their best foot forward for Tongan Schools

'Oua lau e kafo kae lau e lava" - Stay positive and count your blessings

The Blues Best Foot Forward program is back, but this year, the Blues Rugby players are joining forces with students from more than 15 Auckland, North Harbour, and Northland schools to collect and send 20,000 pairs of recycled sports shoes, plus sports equipment, to schools in Tonga.

Blues players James Lay, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi & Maiakawanakaulani Roos are leading this year’s Blues Best Foot Forward program which aims to help make a difference to the youth in Tonga impacted by the recent devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.

“Tonga is home to many of our players and our fans,” said Blues CEO Andrew Hore. “Our players know first-hand how sport can change lives and the important role it plays in uniting people and creating opportunities and strong communities.

“After learning that many of the kids in Tonga don’t have access to sports shoes or any sports equipment, we’ve teamed up with a number of schools in our region to resurrect our very successful Best Foot Forward of collecting pre-loved boots to help get kids out on the sports fields.

“Together with the students and schools, we’re asking our community to donate their used, or new, sports shoes (laces tied together please) and sports equipment to the young people in Tonga who might otherwise miss out on playing sport due to the lack of access to key resources, like shoes.

Hore adds “Blues Rugby is really proud to represent a very diverse community and it’s a privilege for our players to be working alongside the schools and our partners to support the youth of Tonga.

“Blues Rugby works closely with Dr Edmond Fehoko who has summed up the purpose and core of the project with the quote: “Oua lau e kafo kae lau e lava" - "Stay positive and count your blessings” – the project will continue to uplift the spirits of the young people in Tonga and to stay positive through active sports. At the same time, the quote highlights the reciprocal nature of Tongan people through prayers and blessings.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the level of support we’ve received so far including other sporting codes, the Warriors, who have come on board to help us collect more sports shoes and freight forwarding company Mondiale which is providing the shipping container and covering the freight cost to ensure the shoes and sporting equipment make it to Tonga.

“This program demonstrates the power of our community helping a community which is close to all our hearts. Together we can provide an opportunity for young people to stay positive, stay strong and move forward.

“Similar to our previous years, our whole Blues Rugby team will join together to clean and re-lace the shoes before they are sent to the kids. We know re-lacing 20,000 pairs of shoes will take a while, and no doubt we’ll be looking for a few volunteers, but we’re all absolutely committed to making this happen,” said Hore.


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