The spread of the initiative is being overseen in Fiji by Yasir Janiff, Just Play project manager for the Fiji Football Association, and development officer Mohammed Rafiq.
The pair have worked hard in recent months to get the programme up and running and Janiff says the graft is paying off.
“The Suva, Rewa and Nasinu zones have already seen the implementation of the Just Play programme,” he says.
“The task for us now is to monitor the sessions with the teachers of the respective schools who have been trained to conduct the programmes.
“We visited Waidra Muslim Primary School last Friday and it was pleasing to see the young kids enjoying the programme. The purpose is to socially develop young people and promote healthy living.”
Just Play is designed for children aged 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 that enable children to play football.
Developed by the OFC social responsibility and technical departments, Just Play was launched in Tonga and has since been introduced in Vanuatu, Tahiti, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and South Auckland in New Zealand.
OFC is also currently working in New Zealand with Special Olympics (NZ) on a Just Play programme for people with mental disabilities.
OFC is working closely with UEFA, the Government of Australia – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – and Football Federation Australia (FFA) to roll out the programme across the Pacific. The Australian Government has shown its support to the project by contributing AU$4million.
In South Auckland, Just Play is supported by OFC’s partnership with the Sir John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation, Counties Manukau Sport and Auckland Football Federation.