Beyond just ‘playing games’ – Lewis on the value of sports education

August 31, 2022
Owen Lewis, Secretary-General of the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) has been active in the technical deliberations of sports education courses under OSEP. | Photo: ONOC

Pacific Island Governments need to believe in sports if sport education is to be successful in the region.

Owen Lewis, Secretary-General of the Cook Islands National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) said governments need to understand the value of sport ‘because with that will come investment, resources, and the will to grow the sector – including engaging in sports education.’

Beyond the physical value of sport

Sharing from the ONOC Oceania Sport Education Programme (OSEP) Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) Workshop designing and reviewing sports courses micro-qualifications toward accreditation, Lewis said sports helps people much more than in the physical aspects alone.

Lewis said, ‘Sport builds character, teaches and develops strategic thinking, analytical thinking, leadership skills, goal setting, and risk taking to name a few.

‘It is used for team building, developing critical and strategic thinking, and as a vehicle for changing lives.’

Lewis is part of Oceania NOCs leadership that is taking active steps to build and maintain a good working relationship with governments. | Photo: ONOC

Value to social development in Pacific Islands countries

Lewis further said, ‘In our region’s inactivity epidemic, sport is critical as it presents governments with an existing sustainable base that is firmly embedded in society – it also presents a means of steering social change and a method for responding to diverse social problems.

‘For these reasons it is imperative that we not only continue to engage our communities in actively playing sport, but we must also engage them in sport education.

Value to economic development needs to be promoted

Lewis added, ‘In our islands, the sports sector contributes to the economy in many ways: remittances, employment, and supporting employment and production by adding to the economic output of commercial activities by contributing to a healthy population and increased lifespans – it leads to increased income levels by reducing healthcare costs.

‘The economic value of the sports sector is therefore comprised of a number of monetary and non-monetary elements.’

However, there is the existing challenge of island countries not realising this existing economic wealth which Lewis said, ‘our value is not fully acknowledged, and we need to fully promote these economic benefits a lot more in the region.’

Part of the Pacific Sport Experts contributing to the week's discussions. | Photo: ONOC

Positioning sport education at the centre

When Pacific Island countries understand the value of sports, they will be better placed to value sport education and make necessary investments to harness the sector’s social and economic power.

Lewis said in the context of the Cook Islands, ‘Sport education simply provides us with an ability to grow as a nation – it will assist us to further develop a high-performance sport environment on-island that will lead to not only participate at Games but compete for medals.

‘This is particularly important for our alignment to ONOC’s BRISBANE 2032 Programme, the 10-Year Pathway for long-term athlete development initiative.’

Ultimate benefit to Pacific athletes

Lewis shared that, ‘Sport education leads to increased knowledge of exercise science and Strength and Conditioning which will provide opportunities for coaching improvement and another level of opportunities for our Pacific Islands athletes.

‘Athletes will be able to better understand themselves and also have pathways for their development beyond sport.’


Please visit the following links for more information:

On the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee
On the Oceania National Olympic Committees 
On the Oceania Sport Education Programme
On the ONOC BRISBANE 2032 Programme 
On the Pacific Community’s EQAP


About ONOC 
Established in 1981, the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) is one of five Continental Associations. It looks after the interests of 17 member nations in the Oceania Region, including Australia and New Zealand as well as seven associate members. 

ONOC has an office in Guam where Secretary General Mr. Ricardo Blas is based and the Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, where the Office of the President Dr Robin Mitchell is located.

All services and-programmes are based on the ONOC Strategic Plan for 2018-2021, and its 4 Core Functions of (1) Building and Strengthening NOCs Capacity (2) Cultivating Strategic Partnerships (3) Contributing towards Sporting Excellence and (4) Leading by Example.


For more information, please contact;

Shivneel Narayan
Chief Communications Officer (Acting)


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