Almost 500 students at the St Michael’s Primary School in Hanuabada village, National Capital District welcomed football basics into the community on Wednesday.
PNG Football Association launched the 2018 OFC Just Play program in a cricket oriented community as their first rollout outreach to schools that are interested in taking football as a disciplined code and career.
Just Play operations manager Micah Kaneng said the development program has been run under the PNGFA banner targeting schools to teach students as young as five years old the basics of football and education.
“This program will help students concentrate in school, respect people around them and to develop their knowledge in football basics,” he said.
The OFC Just Play program has covered almost 20 schools within National Capital District with St Michaels in Hanuabada, Tatana and Baruni also included in 2018.
Kaneng said this year they have decided to start early before they set out to other centres such as Manus, Wewak, New Ireland, Chimbu and Western Highlands.
The program has over the years worked well and there are schools soccer running every year, managed by John Mogi and Wesley Waiwai.
The PNG U-20 Women’s FIFA World Cup goal scorer Nicolette Ageva has been a product of the program. Some players in the PNG national team, the Kapuls have made it through with the help of the program.
St Michael’s head teacher Emmeline Sioni said they are excited to train certain age groups and to involve them in program such as Just Play.
“Hanuabada children are often motivated by athletes such as Dika Toua (Weightlifting) and Assad Vala (Cricket). But not all of them are good at one sport, therefore with the football basics introduced, they can be able to represent PNG in football when they grow up,” she said.
St Michael’s Primary School has assigned three Grade 4 classes to Just Play to showcase and participate in drills and mini competitions this year.