Photo via Fiji FA Just Play

Australian Foreign Minister, Hon Penny Wong has attended Fiji’s Just Play Programme at LDS Church College in Suva representing the Australian Government in recognition of their long-standing support for Sport-For-Development across the Pacific.  

Minister Wong was accompanied by The Ministry of Youth and Sports who invited the Just Play Team to be part of the Fiji Day Celebration with sports programmes promoting “Rebuilding Fiji to be better through sports.”  

OFC’s sport for development ‘Just Play’ programme focuses on the thematic areas of Gender Equality, Social Inclusion and Safeguarding for primary-aged children while encouraging community involvement and healthy living. The programme has been delivered with Australian government support since 2015. 

Hon Penny Wong, witnessed the programme’s role in creating opportunities for children to positively engage in sports and learn valuable life skills. 

“Australian Foreign Minister, Hon Penny Wong was so exhilarated to engage with the children and adolescents during the visit. The Just Play stations with the social messages give her an explicit idea of how these young children enjoy the program.” Said Fiji FA Social Responsibility Manager, Filomeka Liku.  

“She (Hon Penny Wong) was inspired by the enjoyment of the fun games and how it has impacted them leaving her no choice but to engage in small-sided games with the children.” 

Photo via Fiji FA Just Play

Inspired by the joy and impact of the Just Play activities, the Australian Foreign Minister participated within the session, actively engaging with the students and urging them to embrace sports and pursue their passions.  

The Minister shared compelling stories of athletes who triumphed over challenges through dedication and hard work and left a lasting impression of the programmes participants. 

“Along with Hon Penny Wong’s enjoyment and excitement she gave the children some Matilda merchandise for her gratitude towards them,” recounts Liku  

In addition to the sports activities, the Just Play Programme session featured an enlightening Q&A session on health and nutrition which provided valuable insight into maintaining a balanced diet and the pivotal role of regular exercise in preventing various health conditions, including rheumatic heart disease. 

Beyond promoting sports and physical activity, the event heightened awareness about the significance of leading a healthy lifestyle and fostering positive change through football. Students departed with a deeper appreciation for the benefits of sports and a reinvigorated commitment to integrate physical activity into their daily lives. 

 Just Play Programme was developed with the support of UNICEF. Its delivery is made possible due to long-standing partnerships with Australian Aid through the Team Up Programme, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the UEFA Foundation for Children.