Over the past few weeks, Dyldam Parramatta Eels Bureta Faraimo, Junior Paulo, Tepai Moeroa, Kelepi Tanginoa and Brad Takairangi have been working closely with Jay Laga’aia, Nigel Vagana and Roy Asotasi and taking part in a newly developed ‘Parra Pasifika’ program at the Blue and Gold.
The ‘Parra Pasifika’ program focuses on developing communication skills in Polynesian players through identifying stories about themselves that they could use with the media, community groups or sponsors.
Developed through interactive workshops and culturally-based activities, Laga’aia and Vagana hope the sessions will improve the players' performance and confidence off the filed, not only at private and public functions and sponsors outings but also in communicating at home with your kids and loved ones.
“The Parra Pasifika program is simply about empowering the boys about changing mindsets and about asking simple questions; are they creating habits that will allow them to achieve their goals they have set for themselves,” Laga’aia said.
“Polynesians tend to not put up their hands for things, and drift through life but here it is about asking them questions about what do they want out of life and what are they doing to achieve those things.” He added.
Laga’aia has an extensive history in the entertainment industry, working as a professional actor, musician, TV producer and writer since 1982, and he passed on his life experiences to the players in the hopes they can learn from him and improve themselves.
“It is right across the board, and not just in athletes as such,” Laga’aia said.
“For me it is about learning from my life experiences and picking up stuff that I have learnt, and simply telling them that my job is not to make them better players, but better people, and they already know how to do that.”
Laga’aia has seen a direct correlation between having confidence and a positive mindset to performances in life, and he wanted to pass on this message to his ‘Polynesion brethren’ involved in the program.
“I see a link to the confidence and mindset with their performance in the really successful people.” Laga’aia said.
“It bores down to choose a job in the world you really enjoy and you will never work another day in your life and nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission,”
“For me, those two mantras are what I built my life on, because I didn’t have a great schooling, but I can use that as an excuse, or I can use that as an example to say that’s where I was, and this is where I am.”
“With these boys, if you take a risk in life, you have to understand failure is a part of success. If you understand that and measure your success in inches, you will always be successful,” Laga’aia added.
Laga’aia has plenty of passion for the program, and it was something he wanted to further expand and continue to grow at Parramatta.
“If you treat each other with respect, then you will get respect back. As players, it doesn’t matter if you are Polynesian, Micronesian, English or whatever, what it bores down to is what do you want to get out of this life,” Laga’aia said.
“Your career will continue but if you enhance that with being a better person, automatically your playing will up itself as well.”