Hundreds of primary and intermediate school age children met with their favourite Steamers players at Baypark today as part of the Tauranga Safe City campaign.
A total of 487 pupils from 11 different schools joined the Steamers as they trained for their first ITM Cup match against Taranaki at Baypark on Saturday night.
Greenpark School pupils Raveen Saily, 12 and Jayden Cundy, 10, do some wrestling training with Lelia Masaga.
The pupils from Merivale, Greenpark, Mount Maunganui Primary and Intermediate, Tauranga Intermediate, Pongakawa, Maketu, Te Akau ki Papamoa and Greerton Village and Gate Pa were given a tour of the home base, watched the Steamers train and heard from coaching staff.
Tauranga Safe City programme manager Raewyn Mortensen says the day was fantastic.
“The aim was to get the young people out meeting the players, for a lot of the kids they come to the games, but to be able to look through their home, see how they train and how they became professionals is really important for the kids.”
Toby Arnold was on hand to show the children around Baypark explaining the different facilities and how they are used by players. Children learnt about the game analysis system and how game footage aids in the development of the squad.
Pupils then got to watch as the Steamers worked out in their home ground gym.
For the last few years the Tauranga Safe City campaign has run the ’no one likes a bully’ campaign aimed at high schools, but Raewyn says this year they wanted to focus on getting the messages out to primary age children.
“This year we wanted to create a preventative model so we needed to look at the messages going out to primary schools.
“The Steamers are carrying community messages with them, which is really exciting.”
The idea came about in a youth focus forum where primary school pupils put forward the issues they struggle with.
“They told us about how you get picked on if you are different. So it is about showing the children the difference between bullying and teasing. It’s about the name calling and how it is not cool.”
The Bully No More campaign’s key material is the 33 player cards, each featuring a different Steamers player carrying an anti-bullying message.
Children are encouraged to collect the set of player cards and were today given the opportunity to get these cards signed by their favourite players.
All the children that attended today got free tickets to the game on Saturday night where they can also pick up more player cards from the gate.
Epoki Polaapau, 10, from Greenpark School tests out Dan Perrin’s muscles.
Ben Smith talks with students about the room the Steamers relax in.
Carl Axtens and Tanerau Latimer show the children the importance of proper nutritional supplements.
Steamie gets swamped by fans.
Steamers sign autographs for their fans.