November 20 marks World Children’s Day, a special time across the region. OFC is committed to using football to enrich the lives of our young people around Oceania, with the theme this year being ‘Inclusion, For Every Child’.

So far this year, our Just Play program has brought football to many children in the Pacific ensuring children have a safe place to play and experience the joy of football as our region emerges from the challenges of COVID 19 lockdowns and natural disasters.

The programme in Tonga has been particularly important this year in supporting the recovery of children and adults following the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption. The Just Play Emergency programme focused on the psychological recovery of coaches, volunteers and administrators before providing children with a safe place to play and learn key messages around safety, resilience and health following a natural disaster. Festival marking International Children’s day were held in Ha’apai Island gathering 177 children from 5 schools, while festivals on Tongatapu brought together 8 communities withspecial Guests from the Ofa Tui Mo Amanaki Centre(Red Cross). Tiulipe Peleketi the Principle of the Special Centre presented with few of the Special Needs children with hope of breaking barriers and advocate inclusion to all sports in Tonga.

Talei Cama the Social Policy Specialist/Policy Evidence and Social Protection Team together with Shaneel Sharma from UNICEF Pacific were also witnessed the program that was held in the main island. While Women and Children Crisis Centre joined the Ha’apai team in celebrating the International Day for Children.

In the Solomon Islands Children from communities from Kwai, Ngongosila and Atori in East Malaita celebrated the World Children’s Day with a Just Play Festival at Ngongosila Island.

The event celebrated with the theme; “Child Protection” with key messages integrated into the playing experience focussing on respect, safety and taking care of each other. A total of 300 children joined in the celebrations.

This World Children’s Day, it’s more important than ever that the world listens to their ideas and demands. From climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future.

World Children’s Day is celebrated every year to commemorate the Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly. It offers everyone a way to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.

Thanks to the Government of Australia and New Zealand for their ongoing support in ensuring that children have a space to play and empower girls and women in the Pacific. UNICEF Pacific, UEFA foundation for children and Football Australia for your willingness to walk with us in creating opportunities for the our children to express themselves in a safe environment.

Check out more photos and content on the Just Play Facebook Page.