TEN primary schools in the National Capital District have been targeted as pilot projects for a unique grassroots soccer programme. To kick-start the programme, Just Play Manager, Taku Niebo was at the St Therese Community School in Badili last week to promote the concept.
The programme is designed for children aged between six and twelve and based around structured activities as well as the distribution of equipment containing balls, cones, bibs, activity manuals and other resources that enable children to play football at any time and in any situation.
Volunteers and teachers, who are trained by the Oceania Football Confederation in cooperation with its member associations, provide tuition for students on how to develop games skills and lead healthier lives.
“Just Play” certificates and equipment bags are handed out at the end of each course. The Just Play Programme is run by PNG football Association which is cordinated by OFC. The aim of the programme is to use football as a tool to address certain social issues that affect children in schools and communities.
The regional football body is committed to growing football at community and school level throughout the Pacific. PNG Football Association president David Chung, who is also the OFC boss, said the success of the programme was based on key partnerships.
OFC is working closely with the Australian government – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – and Football Federation Australia (FFA) to roll out the programme across the Pacific over a three-year period between 2009 and 2011.
The Australian government has shown its support for the project by contributing A$4 million.Similar programmes have been launched in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji and PNG will follow soon. In New Zealand, OFC has joined up with John Walker’s Find Your Field of Dreams.
OFC also works closely with the member associations, department of education and local community leaders.