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Just Play launched in Samoa

The initiative was launched this month by Matt Anderson, the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, and the opening was also attended by Football Federation Samoa (FFS) officials and members of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, along with principals and teachers from both private and government schools.
Its aim is to encourage physical activity among young people by providing funding for football training programmes and equipment in primary schools across the Pacific region.
It has already been launched in Tahiti, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as well as Manukau in south Auckland, and FFS officials are delighted their country has now been added.
“This programme will especially benefit young children,” interim chairman Toetu Petana says.
“The FFS will also focus more on youth development as a result of the programme. At the recent 2010 FIFA Congress in South Africa, the FIFA executive committee emphasized the importance of football development at a young age for both boys and girls.”
Just Play is designed for children aged from six to 12 and is based around structured activity programmes, as well as the distribution of equipment packs containing balls, cones, bibs, activity manuals and other resources.
Representing OFC at the launch was Just Play technical coordinator and former FFS chief executive Colin Tuaa.
“I am very excited to be back in Samoa and to be involved with the launching of this programme,” he says.
“Just Play is very important because, for the game to grow and be sustainable, it needs to start at the grassroots level. Children will be able to learn the basic skills of the game as well as important life skills.
“Football offers young people great opportunities and pathways within the sport, as seen by the success of the All Whites at the FIFA World Cup. Samoa has great potential over the coming years.”
The Samoan launch was partly made possible by an agreement signed in May between FFS and the Samoan government’s Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.
Ministry chief executive Galumalemana N. Petaia is very much in favour of the Just Play scheme.
“It is a learning opportunity for young children which provides them with quality education through fun sporting activities,” she says.
“Children will be able to learn in a less formal and confining setting by learning outside on the field where there are more open spaces. It also provides teachers with new perspectives when it comes to teaching children.”
The launch was followed by a two-day course conducted by Tuaa, Just Play grassroots project manager Atufili Talaia and FFS technical director Tunoa Lui. The teachers taking part were given manuals about the programme and instructed how to teach children a range of football skills.
Tuaa is pleased with how things went.
“The programme is about human capacity and teaching the teachers how to deliver it. The job of FFS is now to provide support to the teachers.”
The Australian government is helping fund Just Play in several of the Pacific countries and the programme is led by Tuaa, OFC head of social responsibility Franck Castillo and consultant Vania Kenning.
For more on Samoan football visit www.footballsamoa.ws

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