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Bougainville launches Just Play Program.

The Just Play Program has taken another step, this time to visit to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville with the launching of the grassroots programme, JUST PLAY which took place at Hahela Primary School in Buka. Following the launch, the team took a three minutes boat ride across the passage to catch another 10 minutes drive to Tsiroge Missionary Camp.

Also present during the launching were representatives from Australian Sports Commission, Martin Roberts and OFC Head of Social Responsibility, Franck Castilo alongside Emmie Sope, the OFC and the Lisa Clutterham including Bruce Lendon representing the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Mr. Roberts was happy with the programme being rolled out to Bougainville and urged the people of the region to take this programme to another level as this is one of the other programmes being supported in the Pacific region by the Sports Commission.

“This is an opportunity to use football as a tool for development purposes and PNG is one of the seven countries receiving such assistance,” said Martin.

Involving 40 participants coming from as far as Arawa in Central Bougainville, the participants went through a day of theory session, learning football safety and basic techniques, and also the OFC 11+ (eleven plus) which talks about health, education, environment, citizenship and social integration. Not only that, they were also taught on how to prepare their sessions to deliver the activities of the Just Play Program.
The second day saw the participants go through the drills using the manuals issued despite the afternoon drizzle.

Taku Niebo, the Just Play Project Manager, was pleased with the turnout of the participants enjoying the practical part of the workshop and said it is just the starting point for more on the Just Play Program in their region.

Developed by the OFC social responsibility and technical departments, Just Play is designed for children aged six to 12 and promotes physical activity while encouraging community involvement, healthy living, gender equality and disability development.

OFC has worked closely with UEFA, the Australian Government – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – and Football Federation Australia to implement the programme across the Pacific over a three-year period between 2009 and 2012. It was launched in Tonga and is now also running in American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu.

The confederation has also been working in New Zealand with Special Olympics on a Just Play programme for people with mental disabilities and has launched the same initiative in Samoa and Fiji.

Just Play has reached over 100,000 children – 43 per cent of whom are female – across the Pacific and trained over 2,000 teachers and volunteers.

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