Sunshine Coast Lightning Goal Attack Stephanie Wood and more than 40 young netballers from across the region have lent a helping hand to Fijians living in poverty, journeying around the Pacific Island-nation this month as part of a philanthropy-focused sporting tour.
Wood said the group – predominantly made up of netballers aged 11-18 – had visited several orphanages during the nine-day trip and donated much-needed hygiene and cleaning products.
“The orphanages provided us with a list of items they were urgently seeking, and we also brought the children things like colouring books, pencils and board games to bring a smile to their faces.
“We’ve visited a number of Fijian villages too, which has been really eye-opening and inspiring.
“Living in such a privileged part of the world, it’s easy to take our lifestyles for granted, and this tour has highlighted just how lucky we are as well as the importance of giving to those less fortunate.”
The netballers flew into Suva on 6 December and participated in a two-day netball tournament, the 2018 Grasshoppers Netball Festival.
Players from Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand took part, with Sunshine Coast teams winning the U16 and U19 categories.
Tour organiser Kim Howard of Motivationz Netball Sunshine Coast said the trip was the third of its kind the organisation had run.
“We visited Fiji for the first time two years ago and felt such a strong desire to return and continue contributing positively to the lives of others,” Howard said.
“Many of the Fijian children who participated in the tournament don’t have access to basic items like shoes and sports clothing, so our netballers have donated their old uniforms and shoes, which go a really long way.
“In addition to these donations, our players sported t-shirts featuring the ‘choose kind’ slogan in support of the worldwide anti-bullying campaign. With this sentiment in mind, they sung Heal the World by Michael Jackson at the event on the final night of the tour in Nadi.
“I’m a firm believer that great people make great athletes and by instilling a sense of compassion and kindness in our netballers at a young age, we can make a huge difference to the lives of others.
“Stephanie Wood is an incredible role model for our players and it was great to have her along as tour ambassador.”