FIFA U-20 World Cup contenders Vanuatu have gained a new perspective on food and health today after participating in a nutrition workshop in preparation for their debut on the world stage in May.
NutriFit Program founder Dr Nick Kimber led the team through a series of activities at the OFC Academy in Auckland, to introduce the young footballers to steps towards healthier eating habits that will give them the extra edge on the field.
Kimber has experience as a university and fitness educator and a PhD specialising in post-exercise skeletal muscle fat metabolism from Deakin University in Melbourne, as well as a Masters degree from Lincoln University, New Zealand, focusing on nutritional responses during the New Zealand Ironman Triathlon.
The author, international speaker, and marketing manager for a range of high quality nutritionals took a day out of his busy schedule to educate the Vanuatu U-20 team in an area quite new to the teenage footballers, but very important to them for their future sporting careers.
“Primarily, today’s aim was to prepare them for that big end goal, to have them ready for the World Cup and giving them that vision, but then also helping them understand the importance of nutrition, that its fundamental and you can’t just disregard it,” Kimber said.
“It doesn’t have to be complex. You don’t have to adopt a whole new way of eating, just make minor changes that can eventually lead to some great gains.”
Throughout the day Kimber explained a range of nutrition-related topics, such as the importance of good health, what it takes for nutrition to support them in their performance and the importance of their actions during recovery.
Although the young footballers were hesitant to put their hands up to ask and answer questions, Kimber was pleased to see the boys put his principles into immediate action.
“At one point I directed them to always have water available and the first opportunity they had to have a break, they all went back to their rooms and came back with water,” he said.
“It was encouraging because they actually took immediate action. Now it’s a matter of just getting them to record what they’re eating and checking, working with staff to ensure the food provisions are going well.”
With the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea only two months away, the Vanuatu U-20 men’s team will need to continue applying their new knowledge on nutrition into daily life to ensure they’re at their peak when they represent Oceania at the apex of world youth football.