SOLOMON ISLANDS! Numbu Training Course concluded on a high note with the presentation of equipment and speeches from the chief of the community, church Pastor and the Head Teacher of the school. 20 participants participated in the training. New Just Play trainers were also a part of the training course with Chris Asipara as the instructor for the two days. The community of Numbu in Guadalcanal must be acknowledged for their support for the program and being excellent hosts to the JP team. Tagio tumas to the Australian Government, New Zealand Government, Football Federation Australia, UEFA Children’s Foundation, UNICEF Pacific, OFC and SIFF for your contributions and continuous support towards the Just Play Programme in Solomon Islands.

Special Children change my life perception through the Just Play Programme

Arieta is a 26-year-old housewife from Waiyavi settlement in Lautoka who fell in love with the Just Play program from the first time she joined 3 years ago.

This is her story:
“Before joining the Just Play Programme, I was a housewife, and my husband was the sole breadwinner of our family. I always neglect special school children and always love to be in my world.

I was introduced to Just Play Programme through Master Imdad Ali my neighbor since I was three years old who is like a father to me.I always call him ABHA (dad).3 years ago he asked me to join the programme because he knew what type of person I am and the Just Play Programme could change me and I would be able to get some money for my family as well. My very first Just Play activity was when we visited Lautoka Special School where he introduced me to the children and later asked me to continue from where he left. I was speechless, and I didn’t really know where to start. Luckily Mr Imdad called me aside and told me this “WE ARE ALL HUMAN WITH DIFFERENT ABILITIES it’s only that we are special in our own ways. From then onwards, I decided to start believing in my own self and believe that we are all special in our own way.

Just play had changed my life from someone who is always against special need children and always treat them differently, I learnt that everyone is special and unique in their own different ways. At first, I felt terrible about myself as to how I used to treat special needs children. Now as a Just Play Coordinator and facilitator, I came to understand that we are all unique in our different ways and no one is perfect. I feel confident working and doing sessions with all different ages of special school children in the west. I gained confidence in talking to children and a large number of people in public. If I didn’t join Just Play programme, I would be still that shy housewife who always think of myself and not others especially neglecting special needs children and always think highly of my capabilities and not what others are capable of doing that I can’t-do.

Thank you to all those blessed special children whom I was introduced to 3 years ago as this statement will be part of my life and work “WE ARE ALL UNIQUE IN OUR WAYS, AND WE ARE ALL ONE DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES”

I wish to also thank Fiji Football Association and Oceania Football Confederation and all its financial partners such as: The Australian Government, New Zealand Government, and UEFA foundation for children, Football Federation of Australia and UNICEF for this unique OFC Just Play Programme as it is changing children, families and our lives as volunteers as well”.

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Just Play extends reach in Fiji

The OFC Just Play Programme continues to grow and inspire in Fiji, with the Nasinu district preparing their launch of the programme following a Just Play course at Rishikul Primary School this week.

Fiji Just Play Project Manager Lavenia Yalovi was very proud to see the programme reach another district and is feeling confident about the rollout of the programme after working with the enthusiastic course participants.

“A total of 19 teachers and three volunteers from 10 schools and communities around Nasinu attended the two day Just Play course at Rishikul Primary school last week,” she said.

“All the participants were confident to promote healthy lifestyles, encourage social inclusion, encourage gender participation and set the right conditions for children to have a first positive experience in physical activity with just play.”

The Sport for Development programme was first launched in Fiji in 2010 and since then it has seen success in schools and communities throughout the country by training local teachers and volunteers and empowering them to lead the programme.

Further North in Fiji’s Cakaudrove Province, Losena Tituwere recently joined Just Play as a volunteer and after leading Just Play sessions in her village, Naboutini, Tituwere has become a strong advocate for the programme.

“I joined Just Play in April during the Savusavu Just Play Course because I love working with children. I work as a social welfare officer and when we would visit communities we normally focused our awareness on adults and had never used games before to deliver social messages to children,” she said.

“Before participating in the Just Play Programme I was a shy girl and usually afraid to talk to a crowd let alone a group of children. Just Play really changed my life, now I am confident to stand in front of a crowd.

“I feel great every time I am assigned to go to communities for work as I am able to speak in front of others and I’m also able to involve children in fun games and activities with messages related to my work scope as well.”

The OFC Just Play Programme was developed and implemented by the OFC Social Responsibility department alongside key partners the Australian Government, New Zealand Government, UEFA Foundation for Children, Football Federation Australia and UNICEF.

OFC Just Play Grassroots in Tonga

Tonga | Over 300 children under 12 years old boys and girls from 15 communities gathered at the Home of Football for a Just Play and Grassroots Tournament. About 20 volunteers at this day promoting ‘Water is Good” by providing water for the children from their own homes. The Tonga Technical Director, Kilifi Uele together with Timote Polovili and the rest of the Just Play staff, were at the field. Just Play is supporting TongaMo’uilelei Mo’ui Fiefia promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Again, the next two weeks will be a festival and Tournament for same ages encouraging the young generation to make a change now to build a healthy future generation for Tonga.

Thanks to the Reagan Milestein foundation for donating uniforms for the 15 communities. To the New Zealand government, Australian government, UEFA foundations for children, Australia Football, UNICEF Pacific and OFC for the ongoing support for the Just Play program in the Pacific.

New ambassadors embrace #ENDviolence

Awareness of #ENDviolence continues to spread across the Pacific with another batch of young ambassadors joining in the campaign to put an end to gender-based violence in the Pacific.

Last night Football Federation Samoa welcomed each of the teams and officials participating in the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship to Taumeasina Island Resort in Apia for the #ENDviolence launch.

In collaboration with UNICEF, the Oceania Football Confederation has called on football role-models from across the region to become ambassadors for a campaign which aims to develop respect, understanding and tolerance among girls and boys, women and men, and the community as a whole.

Keynote speakers included Reverend Senetenari Autagavaia, UNICEF Pacific representative Tupe Aumua-Esera and FFS President Laupama Solomona.

Autagavaia said, as a former family court lawyer in New Zealand the campaign touches close to home which is why he was happy to endorse and support it.

Aumua-Esera said sports, like football, offer a unique platform through which critical information on #ENDviolence can be disseminated.

“Ending violence is against women and children with programmes like OFC Just Play and UNICEF is just one campaign reaching out to future sports stars like yourselves to help spread the message,” she told the young internationals before her.

Studies indicate that the physical, emotional and monetary costs of abuse are massive. Within the Pacific region, around 80 per cent of children have experienced some form of direct violence or abuse.
Evidence shows that 57 per cent of women in the South Pacific have been violently harmed by their partner, and that a girl who witnesses the abuse of her mother is more likely to become a victim of violence herself when she grows up.

In an area of the world where access to information is restricted by poor internet, television and radio penetration, the #ENDviolence campaign seeks to create awareness, create sporting champions who will speak up against violence and support broader community awareness towards women and children throughout the region.

Solomona encouraged the young women present to keep talking about this issue among their friends and family upon their return.

“With your help we can increase awareness of this important issue. which effects people just like you across the Pacific,” he said.

“And hopefully together we can make a difference and one day put an end violence against women and girls for good.”

My life story through Just Play-Maylin

I am Maylin Chang and I have been part of the Just Play Programme for 2 months visiting schools and communities to assist teachers and volunteers in delivering the Just Play fun based activities with messages to children around the Suva and Lami area.

Before being a part of the Just Play Programme, I was obese and also I had no confidence. This made it hard for me to interact with people which led me to have a low self-esteem.

After hearing about this program from a friend named Felisha Dandelion Pickering who was part of a Japanese exchange program, I became interested in how this program delivered messages through fun activities in each session. It was an eye opening opportunity when I was able to sit and listen to a discussion.

It was at that moment that my curiosity grew and I wanted to know more. It also shows how through this program, children are given the joy of learning and how to stay healthy and protect themselves through football.

The program has changed my life observing boys and girls in different schools in their arguments with each other about the games based on gender. But after a few sessions, I could see that through Just Play the students have changed their views and have accepted gender equality and respect.

The atmosphere of excitement when they see us in school, on the buses and in town and they are so excited to see us even if there is no session going on.

This has changed my life perception that through hard work and a little boost of confidence you can inspire children through small activities.

Now, I feel very happy, healthy, so confident and blessed to be part of Just Play Program.The most significant change I have had in the programme I would say my weight was 90kg and I’ve lost 10kg in 4 weeks. I’ve seen that through each session I’ve learned more about staying healthy. Through this program, I’ve seen that each game shows a message and information.

My life would have been different if I didn’t join the program because I could have suffered from obesity and no confidence. I would have locked myself away from the world and wouldn’t have found the confidence to face life. I wouldn’t have found some inspiration to take up child care in the future.

To all my peers and children around Fiji remember this two quotes.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”

“While we try to teach children all about life, children teach us what life is all about”.

Thank you, FFA and the Oceania Football Confederation for the Just Play Programme and to all the programme partners the Australian Government, New Zealand Government, UEFA Foundation for Children, Football Federation of Australia and UNICEF for not only improving children’s lives in Fiji, but also changing my life as a volunteer.