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Evaluation protocol: Netball to promote physical and mental health in Samoa and Tonga

Evaluation protocol: Netball to promote physical and mental health in Samoa and Tonga

Publication type

Journal Articles


Journal of Sport for Development



The overall objectives of the netball programs in Samoa and Tonga are to build local governance capacity, provide leadership opportunities for women and sustainably increase recreational physical activity to improve health across all age-groups.

Evaluation Rationale

It is widely accepted that physical activity has health benefits and that it is a critical component of addressing the global emergence of non-communicable diseases. This may be particularly pertinent in Samoa and Tonga where almost 50% of adults are insufficiently active, the prevalence of overweight is among the highest in the world (i.e. >80%) and the costs of related non-communicable diseases are escalating. However, the promotion of physical activity may also have broader implications in Samoa and Tonga. Specifically, there is growing evidence that physical activity participation can prevent mental illness (e.g. depression) and is associated with mental well-being (e.g. happiness). It is also evident that mental health may be an important mediating factor for preventing early mortality due to non-communicable diseases. Despite a paucity of data on the mental health needs of Pacific Island Countries, suicide rates are higher than the global average, suggesting that mental illnesses may be prevalent. Consequently, addressing this apparent mental health need through physical activity interventions may also play an important role in reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases in Samoa and Tonga.

Increasing physical activity and preventing non-communicable diseases are stated objectives of the One Netball Pacific program in Samoa and Tonga. These programs commenced in 2009 in Samoa and 2011 in Tonga and have received ongoing strategic and resource support from Netball Australia, enabled through Pacific Sports Partnership funding. Despite concurrent qualitative evaluation of program delivery, there has been limited quantitative evaluation of intervention processes or its impact on netball participation, physical activity levels and other health-related indicators. Furthermore, we are not aware of any published evaluations assessing the impact of netball participation on body composition, mental well-being or the subsequent reduced risk of other non-communicable diseases.

The purpose of this evaluation is to address a gap between current practice and existing evidence in the sport-for-development sector. Despite pervasive positive rhetoric about the health implications of sport programs that continues to attract ongoing international investment, the evidence base remains limited.

Therefore, we aim to conduct a process and impact evaluation of the One Netball Pacific program in Samoa and Tonga. Specifically, we aim to assess the organisational objectives of “creating more opportunities for women and girls to take part in physical activity through netball” to “improve health-related behaviours” and “reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases in these communities”.

Evaluation objectives
To assess the delivery and reach of One Netball Pacific programs and its impact on program registrant: netball access; netball participation; recreational physical activity; body composition; mental well-being.



Friday, December 9, 2016 - 10:51