Blues Rugby puts its best foot forward for Tongan schools

the Best striker of the Blues is back, but this year Blues Rugby players are teaming up with pupils from more than 15 schools in Auckland, North Harbor and Northland to collect and send 20,000 pairs of recycled sports shoes, along with sports equipment , to schools in Tonga.

Blues players James Lay, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Maiakawanakaulani Roos lead this year Best striker of the Blues program that aims to help make a difference for young people in Tonga affected by the recent devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.

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

“After learning that many children in Tonga do not have access to sports shoes or any sports equipment, we have partnered with a number of schools in our area to resurrect our very successful Best foot forward to collect pre-loved boots to help kids get out on the sports fields.

“Together with students and schools, we ask our community to donate their used or new sports shoes (tied laces please) and sports equipment to young people in Tonga who might otherwise miss out on doing sport due to lack of access to key resources, such as shoes.

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

“Blues Rugby works closely with Dr Edmond Fehoko who summed up the aim and heart 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 lift the spirits of young people in Tonga and stay positive through active sports. At the same time, the quote highlights the reciprocal nature of the Tongan people through prayers and blessings.

“We have been overwhelmed with the level of support we have received so far, including fellow sports codes, the Warriors, who came on board to help us collect more sports shoes and the transport company Global freight forwarder who provides the shipping container and covers freight costs to ensure the shoes and sports equipment arrive in Tonga.

“This program demonstrates the power of our community in service to a community we care about. Together, we can give young people the opportunity to stay positive, stay strong and move forward.

“As in previous years, our entire Blues Rugby team will come together to clean and re-lace the boots before they are sent out to the children. We know that re-lacing 20,000 pairs of boots will take some time and we will be looking without any doubt a few volunteers, but we are all absolutely committed to making it happen,” Hore said.

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