Vanuatu Basketball Federation launch their Hoops for Health program

The Vanuatu Hoops for Health (H4H) coaches have become something of local celebrities, with their work throughout the Vanuatu school community making them a huge hit with kids.

"Whenever I walk down the street in my H4H uniform, kids come running up to me and they know who I am," said Vanuatu Basketball Federation (VBF)H4H Coordinator Annie Obed.

The H4H coaches have been able to use their popularity with local school children to make a positive impact on their lives. VBF uses the H4H program to bring basketball to kids in a fun way while teaching them about healthy food options.

VBF were able to showcase their success to the public on May 4th with an official launch of their H4H program at Ecole Colardeau in Port Vila.

The Australian High Commission Secretary Malcolm Paterson got involved by shooting a ceremonial basket to open the launch and start the clinic for the students of Centreville School.

VBF President Franck Franconieri congratulated the coaches on their amazing work and stressed how important it is to improve health related behaviours within the community.

It was a sentiment echoed by the H4H coaches.

The program launch comes on the back of a visit from FIBA' Basketball '+' lead, Catherine Grawich.

VBF hosted Grawich from 19th-22nd of April. She attended some school clinics during her visit and witnessed first hand how much of a difference the H4H coaches are making.

"I was in Vanuatu last year and this time around I was astounded by how quickly the popularity of basketball and H4H had grown in Vanuatu. Every clinic I went to was the same story, the students were having so much fun and asking when the H4H coaches were coming back to their schools. It is fantastic to see so many smiling children running around playing basketball in Vanuatu," she said.

This program has not only helped the children in the area, it is also changing the lives of its coaches.

The Vanuatu H4H program is supported by FIBA and funded by the Australian Government as part of the Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP).

During the program launch VBF president Franck Franconieri expressed his gratitude to the Australian Government, "Vanuatu Basketball wishes to acknowledge the Australian Government for the support of this program and we hope we will work together for more opportunities in sport development and also for the development of our players."

"We also would like to acknowledge the Vanuatu Ministry of Health in providing assistance in regards to information on Non-Communicable Disease," said Franconieri.

The VBF will be creating some new fans when they commence their upcoming 10 week H4H schools program starting with the new school term in late May.