Students at Mt Wellington’s Panama Road school were treated to a visit from a group of All Blacks both past and present as part of a surprise breakfast event recently. All Blacks Jerome Kaino, Julian Savea, Dane Coles and former stars Michael Jones, Keven Mealamu and Buck Shelford, took their place at the breakfast table alongside the decile one school students, before presenting several of them with leadership awards at a special assembly.
Former No.8 in the 1987 world champion team Buck Shelford says that one of the most humbling benefits for those who have worn the black jersey is their ability to reach others in the community. “One of the great things about being an All Black is that we have a chance to make a positive impact on our community. A school visit like this gives us the chance to meet some awesome Kiwi kids and share our experiences of what it takes to succeed – not just in sport but in life,” says Shelford.
“When you put on the black jersey for the first time it’s an exciting moment, but one that also comes with huge responsibility and you truly realise the privilege you’ve been given,” says Jones.
“Throughout our All Black careers we’ve all been able to draw on the support and encouragement of the New Zealand public and we’re honoured that in some small way we are able to help inspire the next generation to reach their dreams through opportunities like this,” he says.
Double world champion and former All Black Hooker Keven Mealamu says teaching kids basic life skills like good nutrition and the importance of exercise, is a message he’s passionate about sharing with not only his own family but the wider community.
Mealamu says it’s also important for parents who support their children in their activities to focus on the right things. “We want kids to understand that it’s not about having the best boots, the latest gear or the most coaching sessions, but the qualities like perseverance, resilience and passion that make a champion,” he says.
The visit marked the launch of Sanitarium’s All Blacks Champions collector card promotion – which features premium quality collector cards of 24 world-champion winning All Blacks from 1987, 2011 and 2015. Sanitarium executive general manager Pierre van Heerden says it is wonderful that through this partnership with the NZR the company is able to help inspire a new generation to achieve their full potential.
“Along with the All Blacks Champions collector card campaign launching we had a chance to bring some current and former All Blacks along to meet some local children. We know the kids loved having the chance to meet their heroes up close, so we’re delighted we’ve been able to make this happen,” said van Heerden.