For the children of Vanuatu’s Shefa Province the past five weeks have flown by thanks to the Shefa Provincial Education Office Kick NCD Knockout tournament.

Vanuatu Football Federation Development Officer Benjamin Noel Kalo has been organising the event for U-12s, which brings together 12 schools from across Port Vila.

These 12 schools are attached to the OFC Just Play Programme with teachers delivering the sport for development programme in classrooms during the school term. Those same teachers are now coaching their students in the competition, which aims to raise awareness of the risks of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), a key aspect of the OFC Just Play Health curriculum.

“The schools have already been learning the Just Play social objectives of the Health portion of the programme, and we’re incorporating that learning in the tournament,” Kalo explained.

“When they come outside they still learn those messages but they have more opportunity to be involved in competition. In addition, we have lessons on gender equality, with each team made up of four boys and three girls, and the girls have to play.”

Just Play Development Officer, Benjamin Noel Kalo. Credit: OFC via Phototek

Kalo said the tournament has been going well, with the children and teachers turning up early in anticipation for their match days.

“It’s been going really well. The level of the competition gets better every week, they’re becoming more skilled and there’s a lot of cheers when the girls score,” he said.

The competition has been a collaborative effort by the Vanuatu Football Federation, with Just Play staff and Football Development officers working together with the competition staff.

“The development officers laid the groundwork in schools, and assisting the teachers. Bong Shem, the VFF Competition Manager, helps us by finalising the results and standings and the Port Vila Football Association has provided the stadium.

“Actually, being able to use Port Vila Stadium has been really great, you can see how much the children enjoy playing on it. When they step inside the field it’s like they’re Brian Kaltak or Bong Kalo,” Kalo said.

The Shefa Provincial Education Kick NCD Knockout Tournament has four weeks remaining before the winner will be announced.

Current standings: