The OFC Just Play programme is working for a fairer, more inclusive society. It is also making football dreams come true.
Working with children through Just Play, trainers from Kaugere community bends the rules of football to create a level playing field and make the game fun and inclusive for all.
Just Play technical coordinator Margaret Aka believes football is a reflection of society and change needs to happen if girls are to get a fair go.
“Especially in Melanesian culture, the boys seem to be the boss all the time,” says Aka
“We’ve put in the concept of gender balance. It takes quite a bit of pulling with the boys. But now we’ve seen this correction. They mingle around together, they show respect for each other and they know their rights.”
Gender equality is one of four key aims of Just Play, along with disability inclusion, child protection and combatting non-communicable diseases by promoting a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Aka said the Just Play trainers from Kaugere community started running the programme since last month and seeing the joy in the kids during the Just Play programme, proving the sport has not been a waste of our time.
“Not only that, we are raising the youth to be good citizens of this country. It is our paramount motive.” says Aka
The trainers agreed, acknowledging the witnessed changes in children’s attitudes after participating in Just Play.
“Kaugere was once a notorious suburb in Port Moresby but with Just Play we are looking forward to have a great change in Kaugere community, their families and the country.” Aka added.
The OFC Just Play Programme is a sport for development programme that 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 lifestyle habits, encourages gender equality and leaders in the community, promotes social inclusion and insists on sport for all.
The OFC Just Play Programme is designed and monitored by the OFC Social Responsibility Department in partnership with Australian and the New Zealand Governments, the Football Federation Australia, the UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF.