The budding young footballers were treated to a coaching clinic with several members of the touring Play Fair Brazil team, who headed down under to take on the Fiji national side in a two-match series.
The ranks of Play Fair Brazil are usually made up of a blend of former stars and current professionals and the line-up for the Fiji tour was no different, mixing several ex-internationals with a promising batch of younger players.
Several of these stars, including former Brazil international and Bayern Munich striker Paulo Sérgio, were on hand at the coaching clinic to pass on their vast experience and knowledge to the children, who were all delighted to be in the presence of such a well-known name of the world game.
Now 43, Sérgio won the 1994 FIFA World Cup with Brazil and also lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy in 2001 during his time at Bayern Munich.
Sérgio and his team mates found time to drop in to the Fiji Football Association academy in Ba for the coaching session just prior to their second match of the tour.
They had beaten Fiji 2-1 at Churchill Park in Lautoka in the first game but fell to a 1-0 defeat in the second at Govind Park last Saturday. Waitakere United striker Roy Krishna was the match winner for Fiji, striking in the first half to earn a memorable result for coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti and his men.
The Just Play children enjoyed a further opportunity to show off their skills during the half-time break of that match, taking the field to put on a 15-minute exhibition of their talents for the spectators.
Developed by the OFC social responsibility and technical departments, Just Play is designed for children aged six to 12 and promotes physical activity while encouraging community involvement and healthy living.
OFC has worked closely with UEFA, the Australian Government – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – and Football Federation Australia to implement the programme across the Pacific over a three-year period between 2009 and 2012. It was launched in Tonga and is now also running in American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu.
The confederation has also been working in New Zealand with Special Olympics on a Just Play programme for people with mental disabilities and has launched the same initiative in Samoa and Fiji.
Just Play has reached over 100,000 children – 43 per cent of whom are female – across the Pacific and trained over 2,000 teachers and volunteers.
Recent review findings have shown that students who participate in Just Play are more motivated to go to school, improve their academic performance and develop positive citizenship skills while many of the volunteers have demonstrated strong leadership within their communities.