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.

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.


NZ Prime Minister visits Just Play Festival

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Hon. Bill English and Minister of Pacific Peoples, Hon. Alfred Ngaro were welcomed onto Victoria Park by CIFA President, Mr. Lee Harmon and Just Play Project Manager, Michelle Paiti to this month’s popular Village Festival on Tuesday.

A much hyped up occasion to look forward to not only for the many children and parents who attended but for the CIFA staff members who stood out in their green Just Play tees.

Prior to Hon. Bill English’s arrival over 250 children from around the islands flocked onto Victoria Park ready to rock out the Village Festival with the various sporting codes, Athletics, Netball, Badminton, Rugby, Cricket, Gymnastics and Soccer on hand to display to the days special guest.

Overwhelmed with the attendance from the children, Michelle Paiti beamed with excitement and no doubt a proud moment and opportunity to showcase to the NZ Prime Minister and his delegation just how their aid programme is assisting the development of our children here in the Cook Islands, as part of the funding for the Just Play Programme is supported by NZ Aid Programme.

“It is great to see the many children and the support from the parents in attending Tuesday’s special Village Festival”, say Michelle.

“I believe that they loved the occasion with the opportunity to see up close and even speak with the Prime Minister and his delegation”.  The children’s response were certainly impressive as they did not shy away and fully embraced their moments”, says Paiti.

In our community we have huge health issue especially with obesity and diabetes and this is one way to get our children started in the healthier path and as agreed by Hon. Bill English who believes in keeping active for a better lifestyle, a very important concept to have in mind.

The NZ Prime Minister tried his hand at cricket only to be run out by the little one who were fielding much to the laughter of onlookers before making his way around the field to chat and participate in a number of activities.

Kicking around the the 6 year old category with a small sided soccer match, he opted to be the goalkeeper, blocking a number of attempts at goal by the keen footballers.

A part of the rotation system were two booths for the Ministry of Internal Affairs who spoke about Respect, Acceptance and Inclusion while the Ministry of Health presented a grilling image on an number of favorite beverages and its number of teaspoons of sugar it contains and how important it is to always drink water, eat fruits and vegetables and be physically active.

Before departing to his next meeting the NZ Prime Minister and Hon. Alfred Ngaro were presented with a small gift from Just Play and a photo op with Mr. Lee Harmon, Michelle Paiti and Eddie Drollett.

We would like to say a huge MEITAKI MAATA to all our partners from their contributions to what was a very successful day.

Just Play is a programme fully funded by the New Zealand Government, Australia Government, Football Federation of Australia, UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF.