Just Play India Programme gathers momentum

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was officially signed between FFA and the Indian counterpart All India Football Federation (AIFF). This MOU was signed at the 2016 AFC Extraordinary Congress where FFA President Steven Lowy met with AIFF President Praful Patel. This MOU governs the structure of the Just Play programme in India and its potential expansion across the country.

Kieran Lilley, the International and Government Relations Coordinator of FFA, and Franck Castillo, Head of International Relations & Social Responsibility of OFC also travelled to India to meet with all the major partners and stakeholders of Just Play India including UNICEF India, Kerala Football Association (KFA), and Western India Football Association. This is the third round of strategic partnership meetings since the Just Play pilot was launched earlier in July this year.

Amidst all this frenzy of expansion was also the first ever Just Play Festival for India. The festival was held in Kochi, Kerala on Saturday, October 2016. The Ambedkar stadium was full of excitement as almost 200 children from all the five schools that were a part of the pilot took part in the festivities. The high level delegates that were in attendance for the festival were Assistant Collector of Ernakulum, Michael Brown from the Australian High Commission, Franck Castillo from OFC, Kieran Lilley from FFA, the President of KFA & the General Secretary of KFA.

The Just Play Project Manager for Kerala met with OFC and FFA to give an update about the progress of the pilot and discuss the next steps for programme expansion in Kerala. Castillo and Lilley also met with the President of Kerala Football Association (KFA) and General Secretary Anil Kumar. The overall tone of the meetings was highly positive.

“While expanding to other Indian states, the programme will be tailored to suit the needs of every Indian state”, Castillo said while speaking about the expansion of the programme.

The pilot will be expanded Partnership meetings with the Western India Football Association (WIFA) were also held in Mumbai where Mr. Castillo and Mr Lilley met with the CEO of WIFA, Henry Menezes along with the General Secretary, Mr. Souter Vaz. All partners shared a common vision for the launch of the programme in Mumbai and its potential expansion.

The trip to the city of Mumbai concluded with a very successful meeting at Mumbai’s Mayoral Bungalow with Mr Aditya Thackeray, the president of Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the leading political party in the state of Maharashtra.

Just Play is a sport for development programme designed to target children aged 6-12 years.  Through the OFC Just Play Programme children learn, grow and explore sport in a positive and meaningful way. Through the integration of social messages into all sessions and activities, children learn healthy sanitation habits, encourage gender equality and increase their school and community engagement.

The expansion of the OFC Just Play Programme into India has been made possible because of the support of the Australian Government and the UEFA Foundation for Children.