Social Responsibility managers and champions of equality across several countries and sports gathered at OFC’s Home of Football, Te Kahu o Kiwa, on Friday, November 11 to take part in the OFC Sport for Gender Equality Workshop.

The workshop acted as an introduction to OFC’s ‘Equal Oceania’ Playbook for Gender Equality as the organisation continues its commitment to delivering an equal Oceania both on and off the pitch.

The playbook is based off 18 months of research involving a survey of over 1600 children, 110 interviews, analysis of nearly 2000 media articles and the results from a dozen guided discussions and workshops across the region.

“While there is extensive research in western contexts, we saw a need to explore the experiences of our people across Oceania to guide our activity going forward and to give us an evidenced based approach to delivering gender equality in and through football in the Pacific,” OFC Head of Social Responsibility Michael Armstrong said.

“The Playbook is there to start the conversation and marks a key step in our journey to becoming an inclusive sport for all. It also provides us with a measurable framework to track progress as we continue along this path.”

Representatives from seven different sports and across various nations in the region were invited to the workshop, highlighting OFC’s commitment to breaking down barriers and delivering lasting changes in society.

“Collaboration will be key to delivering broader social change,” Armstrong said.

“It was a privilege to be able to bring people together from across different sports in our region to hear their perspectives and identify areas where we can work together for more inclusive participation, coaching, leadership and policy environments.”

Nearly 40 attendees had the opportunity to test recommendations from this research at Friday’s workshop as they were led through various activities by the OFC Social Responsibility team. This included an introduction to the playbook, a gender scorecard activity, round table discussions and programme participation.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ambassador for Gender Equality (Pacific), Louisa Wall, was a keynote speaker at Friday’s event. She said she was “incredibly privileged” to speak and participate in the workshop and is excited by the work being done by FIFA and OFC regarding Gender Equality:

“It completely aligns with the work we are all trying to do which, essentially, is to provide opportunities for women and girls across the Pacific to play football so they can realise their potential on and off the field.”

Going forward, OFC’s activity in the Gender Equality space will relate closely to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023™ and the associated Pacific Legacy Programme.

Wall, herself a former New Zealand international in rugby and netball, believes the World Cup, football, and sport in general, can be a vehicle for change:

“If you can see it, you can believe it, you can aspire to it. Fundamentally, we must make sure women and girls can just play in each of our countries and the 11 affiliates to Oceania.

“In addition to the just play aspect it is also about empowering our women to be able to meet a whole load of other needs they want to meet in the health space, in the social space.

“Fundamentally I think that context of development through playing football in OFC is something everyone will be able to see and want to invest in as we move forward.”

OFC Just Play Regional Manager, Lavenia Yalovi, who also commentated at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022 in Fiji in March, attended the workshop and believes that Gender Equality goes beyond the playing field.

“It’s very important. Not only for women that are playing football but women in football as a whole. To provide the platform for them to be working within policy, media, participation and coaching so that we are not simply represented but we are also valued,” Yalovi said.

OFC’s Gender Equality Playbook was officially launched at a special event from the Sofitel Viaduct Harbour in Auckland on Wednesday, November 16 and will be followed by an implementation plan including review of processes internally at OFC and focussed on capacity building and technical support for our members and partners across the region.