In Port Moresby, more than 100 children from six schools gathered On Thursday at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby to participate in the award winning Just Play festival, which uses football as a tool to focus on educating children in four key areas; health and wellbeing, gender equality, social inclusion for all children, and keeping children safe.
Present on that day to officially open the festival was PNG Football Association and Oceania Football Confederation President and FIFA Vice President David Chung, who acknowledged the importance of sport for children.
“Children are naturally drawn to sport, recreation and play, which are an important part of growing up as a child. Not only are they important to helping children grow, learn and explore, they are also every child’s right. Children have the right to play and also the right to enjoy.”
The event started with the students singing the national anthem, followed by the presentation of social messages.
Following the presentation, the students and their teachers headed straight onto the field to take part in organised games of football.
The schools were so motivated that they played relentlessly for two hours. Children participated in small-sided games against the other schools. It was a fun day out of the classroom.
The idea of this festival was to bring together the schools who have implemented the Just Play Programme in their respective community for the last six weeks of the programme.
Not only to showcase what they’ve learnt so far but getting to know each other and making friends with children from other schools.
With the support of the Australian Government and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Just Play, a sport for development programme was established in Papua New Guinea in 2011.
The programme was launched in Port Moresby as a pilot program and expanded to Lae in the same year.
The programme is now present in all four regions, currently operating in seven locations: Port Moresby, Bougainville, Kimbe, Simbu, Goroka, Madang, and Wabag.
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to PNG, James Hall says gender equality is a big focus.
“Australia’s sports for development programmes strongly advocate gender equality messages. Sport can be a vehicle for social inclusion and help to change attitudes towards women and girls. I’m delighted that 49% of the Pacific Sport Partnership programme participants have been female and this includes the Just Play program,” he said.
Since 2009, the Australian Government has invested AUD $6.44 million through its regional Pacific Sports Partnership Program (PSP) in PNG.
In 2014-15, the PSP Program supported 149,085 participants in cricket, football, rugby league, rugby union and table tennis.
About Universal Children’s Day
Universal Children’s Day celebrates the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. It is observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children, with activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world.
The 20th of November marks the day the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been the most rapidly and widely ratified
International human rights treaty in history.
About Papua New Guinea Football Association
The Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) was established in 1962 and become a chief player in the establishment of the Oceania Football Confederation in 1966.
President David Chung and his administration have taken a national approach where previously the focus had been regional.
PNGFA has adopted a vision to promote and popularise football as the number one sport throughout the country and develop Papua New Guinea into a leading football nation in the Oceania region.
The executive has developed and continues to introduce various strategies for the coming years which are expected to have a major impact on the game in the country especially at a Grassroots level.
About Just Play
Just Play is a sport for development programme supported through the Australian Government’s regional Pacific Sports Programme.
Just Play helps children to grow, learn and explore through sport. Just Play gives a child a ball, a coach and a safe place to play.
The programme shows children how to have fun with other children, be physically active and become confident in their abilities.
Through the integration of social messages, Just Play helps children to develop healthy lifestyles habits, encourages gender equality and leaders in the community, promotes social inclusion and insists on sport for all.
The Just Play Programme is designed and monitored by the OFC Social Responsibility department, in partnership with the Australian Government through the Pacific Sport Partnership, Football Federation Australia, the New Zealand Government, UEFA and UNICEF.
OFC is charged with the task of servicing and administering football in the Oceania region while also using the game as a tool for social development. The confederation is led by OFC President David Chung who was elected to office in 2011.