New play­group an ex­ten­sion of NZRL

North Taranaki Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRISTINE WALSH

New Zealand Rugby League tack­led the need for a new play­group in Taranaki - head on.

Tiger Tots is a free, vol­un­teer run play­group based at the West­ern Sub­urbs Tigers Rugby League clu­b­rooms and runs ev­ery Monday and Wed­nes­day from 10am – 2pm.

Par­ents are en­cour­aged to tot along to Tiger Tots with their tiny tots aged 0-5 years; a group to con­nect with other par­ents and for chil­dren to in­ter­act with each other while hav­ing fun learn­ing in a nur­tur­ing and com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment.

The play­group is the first of its kind in the re­gion, but it is one of 17 NZRL com­mu­nity play­groups to be es­tab­lished na­tion­wide since 2013 as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tive be­tween the sport­ing en­tity and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘This is an ex­ten­sion of the game. That’s some­thing that I have al­ways liked about rugby league - it’s whanau cen­tred,’’ NZRL Pres­i­dent Howie Ta­mati said.

‘‘There is fo­cus around what I see is the strength of rugby league. Rugby league is a fam­ily game. Across the board, ev­ery­body, mums, dads, kids, young peo­ple, they are all wel­come within the rugby league clu­b­rooms so-to-speak,’’ he said.

Morn­ing tea is pro­vided and while it’s not oblig­a­tory to at­tend ev­ery week par­ents are en­cour­aged to do so in or­der to get ac­tiv­i­ties rolling.

‘‘Ev­ery one of our clubs has a sim­i­lar so­cial set­ting and it’s the op­por­tu­nity for the rugby league to form a so­cial group, not just from a sport­ing per­spec­tive,’’ Ta­mati said.

NZRL cov­ered count­less zones and for­mer Kiwi Ferns coach Alan Jack­son helped iden­tify the re­cent prime lo­ca­tion to form a play­group, said NZRL na­tional play­group man­ager Marissa Hol­land.

‘‘It’s a nice safe venue within the com­mu­nity and it’s free and ac­ces­si­ble. It’s en­cour­ag­ing in­ter­ac­tion be­tween par­ents and their chil­dren and for the club they would hope that the new fam­i­lies that come in will stay on and their chil­dren may end up play­ing league,’’ Hol­land said.

For Jack­son, rugby league is more than just a game.

‘‘This is what it’s all about, it’s about the whanau and all that sort of stuff.

‘‘I think it’s re­ally spe­cial and will be a good thing for the com­mu­nity and I can see other clubs in Taranaki get­ting on board.’’

CHRISTINE WALSH/ STUFF

Gath­ered around the ta­ble at the open­ing of Tiger Tots are, from L to R: Bubby Te Huia, Alan Jack­son, Tui Waru, Pa­treece Niwa Te Huia, Howie Ta­mati, and Marissa Hol­land.

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