The OFC Just Play Programme continues to show impressive growth in Tonga with 16 communities in the Vava’u island group benefiting from a recent two-day volunteer training session.

The 15 new volunteers were trained in the latest Health and WASH curriculum by Just Play Master Instructor, Lafaele Moala and Tonga Football Association Development Officer and Futsal Instructor, Manu Tu’alau, preparing them to deliver the 16-week programme.

Vava’u FA Officer in Charge, Manatu Liava’a was guest of honour at the course opening and emphasised the importance of the programme messages during his remarks.

“The participants will learn the eight steps of washing hands, which is always an important health message to share, especially now with COVID-19,” Liava’a said.

The course covered both theory and practical training based on social challenges, skills and attributes, support systems and the power of sports. The practical sessions were based on learning and teaching basic skills in futsal, with the 16-week Just Play programme supporting futsal development in Vava’u.

Participants enjoy a practical session in Makave, Vava’u. Credit: Tonga Football

Moala said the two days were well spent with participants showing excellent engagement in all aspects of the training, both theory and practical.

“There were a lot of good discussions during the theory sessions coming from the points of view of the participants,” he said.

“The futsal training practical sessions were quite new to them, but the Just Play Programme sees it as a way of promoting football and they all seemed to enjoy it.”

In support of the 16-week Just Play Programme, a futsal tournament is being run for the U-8 and U-12 age categories. The goal of the tournament is to promote participation through the introduction of the small-sided game.

The tournament will run for eight weeks and will include weekly themes based on the Just Play sessions being run in the community.