Overseas trip promises insights

ST Luke's Anglican School head of rugby Nick Johnstone expects a group of 20 young players to learn new skills in a round-robin tournament in Vanuatu.

But he expects the students to learn a lot more about life.

The children will travel to Port Vila with the St Luke's under-15s and under-17s team to compete in a round-robin tournament with six local teams.

Leaving next Wednesday, the two teams will spend a week on the island of Esate playing rugby and visiting villages.

Johnstone said the students would grow as footballers as well as human beings.

“They are absolutely rugby mad over there and the sides will be pretty tough, but I think the real benefits for the children will come from being exposed to a culture different from their own,” he said.

Johnstone headed a similar tour of Vanuatu five years ago and said the students arrived back on Australian soil a little bit more mature, a little bit more accepting and a little bit more tolerant than when they had left.

“It's a real eye-opener for the kids and I think it helps to give them some perspective on things and gives them a fresh outlook on life,” he said.

The boys have been fundraising for the past three months and will take a $10,000 care package of sporting equipment to the island nation.

“These kids spend more at the tuckshop than some people in Vanuatu make in a day, so I think it will be an experience they won't soon forget,” he said.

Johnstone said some solid friendships had been forged on St Luke's last tour that would give the students an opportunity to get an insider's perspective of the culture and lifestyle of locals.

“There's a bit of a long-standing connection between Bundaberg and Vanuatu with many coming over to Australia to settle,” he said.

“It's a fantastic culture, with fantastic people.

“These kids are going to have a great time both on and off the football field and they are going to be made to feel very welcome,” he said.

Johnstone said the possibility of a team from Vanuatu visiting Bundaberg would be discussed.

“We'd like to repay the favour sometime so we'll look into it and see if there's anything we can work out in the future,” he said.

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