A league tailoring to families is winning in the popularity stakes in Fiji.
The Mom and Pop League is aimed at families with kids aged ten years old or younger, encouraging them and their families to come together and play football without discrimination or the need for major infrastructure.
Initiated by the Fiji Football Association technical department and drawing on the assistance of the Just Play programme volunteers, the Mom and Pop League has been organised in the Southern, Northern and Western Divisions.
The programme brings everyone together under the Fiji Football Association philosophy of “Equality and Unity through football to build a better Fiji”, with sessions designed to include fun games with messages which contribute to health and wellness, football techniques and football games for kids and also for parents.
After being disrupted by the severe flooding and the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Keni in Nadi, the programme got back up and running recently and the attendance showed interest hasn’t waned with 84 participants joining in the two hour session.
Nadi Football women’s team coach Ameena Hussein has been volunteering on the league since it began and said the turnout has been amazing.
“The kids who are with us right now had no knowledge of football when they came on the very first day, but now we can see they have started to learn the basics at this age,” she said.
“If we work hand-in-hand with the parents, I think we will surely achieve our target.”
Hussein said one of the biggest takeaways has been that parents enjoying the programme as much as their children.
One of the parents, Olivia Smith, attends with her seven-year-old daughter and last week provided lunch for all the participants.
“The kids love what we are trying to teach them and their attendance every week simply tells us how passionate they are about football,” Hussein said.
“Parents are also interested in what their kids are learning from us every week.”
Another parent, Zoneed Shah, takes part with his six-year-old son and commended Fiji FA for the initiative and the effect it will have on development.
“I think this is a very good initiative from our footballing body as we are now starting football at a grassroots level,” Shah said.
“I think grassroots level of development was long overdue in Fiji and with this Mom and Pop League in place, the future of our kids is looking exciting.”