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John Iawila prepares to deliver a Hook in4 Health session / Team Up

Hockey in Vanuatu

Meet John Iawila, a 32-year-old development officer for the Hook in4 Health program in Vanuatu, who has not only helped transform the face of hockey in the country but has become a role model across local communities. 

John, who is also the national men’s hockey coach, has played a crucial role in the successful delivery of the program. He, along with his colleague, Anna Bangalulu, actively engage in community visits, using hockey to promote an active, healthy lifestyle while instilling vital life skills and addressing issues such as domestic violence. Additionally, they promote reproductive health and rights.

A key component of the Hook in4 Health program is its live well, learn well, lead well learning journals. These journals are handed out to participants and used to develop important education-related skills associated with goal setting, personal reflection and self-awareness.

Referring to the mama's (women) in the communities he regularly visits, John said: "They love playing hockey, and they use pages out of the journal so that they can better understand themselves and learn more about how to make good life choices.”

“We focus on addressing domestic violence to try to get people not to hurt each other, either by physical harm or verbal abuse. We are getting more communities wanting us to come to them, so we are making a difference.”

Apart from impacting the communities, John also shared how the initiative is helping to develop better local and national hockey players. “It teaches us to respect each other at work, home or while playing." 

"Our hockey players used to yell at umpires if they thought the decision was wrong but through our regular sessions we’ve seen an increase in the number of quality umpires, and players have learnt to accept and respect decisions.”

Reflecting on his personal growth, John shared that one of the major changes the program has had on him was his development as a national coach. 

"I don’t think I would have had the confidence to take up that role without the program. I remembered that when I was interviewed last year, I had to have someone with me to interpret the questions, seeing they were in English, but now I confidently can talk in both Bislama and English."

"I have learnt to be confident in addressing a group of people of all ages, so I do not fear talking to my players or participants of the program."

Supported by the Australian Government’s Team Up, the program is delivered in partnership between Vanuatu Hockey Federation, Oceania Hockey Federation, Wan Smolbag, Cairns Hockey Association, Family Planning Australia, Hockey Australia and Flinders University. 

Mamas in Vanuatu enjoy playing hockey as part of the Hook in4 Health program / Team Up
Mamas in Vanuatu embrace the learning journals as part of the Hook in4 Health program / Team Up
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