Twenty women from Wailevu village graduated from Cricket Fiji’s second-ever Women’s Island Cricket project this past Monday.
The program, which is run in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and funded thanks to the Australian Sport’s Commission’s Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP) program, aims to teach the high-risk group of middle-aged women about the causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which contribute to 80% of deaths in Fiji.
The program uses cricket to harness the factor of physical inactivity, which is one contributing factor to NCDs, as well as explaining to the women the detrimental effects of smoking, alcohol and poor nutrition in interactive, theoretical programs.
Forty-seven women from the village just outside of Labasa signed up for the project, with 20 attending every medical screening and cricket session throughout the entire 20 weeks of the program. The project’s manager, Sara Elzahbi, said that it was extremely encouraging that so many women in the Macuata were committed to improving their health and lifestyles despite their commitments to their families and communities.
“Not only have the women gained a lot of knowledge about theoretical concepts to improve their health, but most importantly they have been taught practical skills which will make it easy to implement without causing drastic changes to their everyday lives,” Ms Elzahbi said. “Plus, they have also really improved at cricket, a game that many of them had never heard of 20 weeks ago.”
As well as the obvious personal gains the women have achieved from their participation in the program, the tangible results obtained from the bi-weekly medical screenings produced positive results as well. Sixty-six per cent of all participants lost weight by an average of 3.7 kilograms, which on average was 6% of their overall total body weight.
Additionally, these participants reduced their Body Mass Index (BMI) by an average of 1.26 points. In other measurements, on average all participants decreased their blood sugar levels by 0.31 milligrams per decilitre, and 85.1% of participants reduced their waist circumference by an average of 8.7 centimetres.
Cricket Fiji is looking forward to running a third Women’s Island Cricket Project in 2015.
Participant’s in the Women’s Island Cricket Project at Wailevu village demonstrate their skills on the field on the final day of the 20-week program.
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